6 December 2014 Last updated at 11:36 ET
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30360665
An award-winning Vietnamese writer has been arrested, reportedly for publishing criticism of the Communist government on his blog.
Nguyen Quang Lap was taken into custody after police searched his home in the city of Ho Chi Minh on Saturday.
His wife and his brother said police had accused him of publishing articles that went against the authorities.
Mr Lap is the second prominent blogger to have been detained recently, in an apparently renewed attack on dissent.
Last week, police in Ho Chi Minh took blogger Hong Le Tho, 65, into custody on charges of anti-state activity.
Unlike many bloggers detained in the past, Mr Lap is part of the mainstream of Vietnamese literature, regularly appearing on state media and winning state-backed prizes.
His blog serves as a platform where he and his friends express sometimes critical views about Vietnam.
The one-party state is often criticized by rights groups for its intolerance of dissent.
Protests are rare in Vietnam and the mainstream media are state-run and heavily regulated.
However, the internet has emerged as a forum for criticizing the authorities.
The press freedom group, Reporters without Borders, says Vietnam has 34 bloggers in prison.
From other news sites
- Australian Financial Review* Vietnam blogger arrests grow
- Al Jazeera Vietnam detains blogger for anti-state posts
- Reuters UK Vietnam detains blogger for anti-state articles
- Gulf Times Second Vietnam blogger arrested over dissent
- Mail Online UK Second Vietnam blogger arrested on anti-state charges
Marjorie Cohn | Become a fan
For many years after the Vietnam War, we enjoyed the “Vietnam syndrome,” in which US presidents hesitated to launch substantial military attacks on other countries. They feared intense opposition akin to the powerful movement that helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. But in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush declared, “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!”
With George W. Bush’s wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and Barack Obama’s drone wars in seven Muslim-majority countries and his escalating wars in Iraq and Syria, we have apparently moved beyond the Vietnam syndrome. By planting disinformation in the public realm, the government has built support for its recent wars, as it did with Vietnam.
Now the Pentagon is planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by launching a $30 million program to rewrite and sanitize its history. Replete with a fancy interactive website, the effort is aimed at teaching schoolchildren a revisionist history of the war. The program is focused on honoring our service members who fought in Vietnam. But conspicuously absent from the website is a description of the antiwar movement, at the heart of which was the GI movement.
Thousands of GIs participated in the antiwar movement. Many felt betrayed by their government. They established coffee houses and underground newspapers where they shared information about resistance. During the course of the war, more than 500,000 soldiers deserted. The strength of the rebellion of ground troops caused the military to shift to an air war. Ultimately, the war claimed the lives of 58,000 Americans. Untold numbers were wounded and returned with post-traumatic stress disorder. In an astounding statistic, more Vietnam veterans have committed suicide than were killed in the war.
Millions of Americans, many of us students on college campuses, marched, demonstrated, spoke out, sang and protested against the war. Thousands were arrested and some, at Kent State and Jackson State, were killed. The military draft and images of dead Vietnamese galvanized the movement. On November 15, 1969, in what was the largest protest demonstration in Washington, DC, at that time, 250,000 people marched on the nation’s capital, demanding an end to the war. Yet the Pentagon’s website merely refers to it as a “massive protest.”
But Americans weren’t the only ones dying. Between 2 and 3 million Indochinese – in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – were killed. War crimes – such as the My Lai massacre – were common. In 1968, US soldiers slaughtered 500 unarmed old men, women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai. Yet the Pentagon website refers only to the “My Lai Incident,” despite the fact that it is customarily referred to as a massacre.
One of the most shameful legacies of the Vietnam War is the US military’s use of the deadly defoliant Agent Orange, dioxin. The military sprayed it unsparingly over much of Vietnam’s land. An estimated 3 million Vietnamese still suffer the effects of those deadly chemical defoliants. Tens of thousands of US soldiers were also affected. It has caused birth defects in hundreds of thousands of children, both in Vietnam and the United States. It is currently affecting the second and third generations of people directly exposed to Agent Orange decades ago. Certain cancers, diabetes, and spina bifida and other serious birth defects can be traced to Agent Orange exposure. In addition, the chemicals destroyed much of the natural environment of Vietnam; the soil in many “hot spots” near former US army bases remains contaminated.
In the Paris Peace Accords signed in 1973, the Nixon administration pledged to contribute $3 billion toward healing the wounds of war and the post-war reconstruction of Vietnam. That promise remains unfulfilled.
Despite the continuing damage and injury wrought by Agent Orange, the Pentagon website makes scant mention of “Operation Ranch Hand.” It says that from 1961 to 1971, the US sprayed 18 million gallons of chemicals over 20 percent of South Vietnam’s jungles and 36 percent of its mangrove forests. But the website does not cite the devastating effects of that spraying.
The incomplete history contained on the Pentagon website stirred more than 500 veterans of the US peace movement during the Vietnam era to sign a petition to Lt. Gen. Claude M. “Mick” Kicklighter. It asks that the official program “include viewpoints, speakers and educational materials that represent a full and fair reflection of the issues which divided our country during the war in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.” The petition cites the “many thousands of veterans” who opposed the war, the “draft refusals of many thousands of young Americans,” the “millions who exercised their rights as American citizens by marching, praying, organizing moratoriums, writing letters to Congress,” and “those who were tried by our government for civil disobedience or who died in protests.” And, the petition says, “very importantly, we cannot forget the millions of victims of the war, both military and civilian, who died in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, nor those who perished or were hurt in its aftermath by land mines, unexploded ordnance, Agent Orange and refugee flight.”
Antiwar activists who signed the petition include Tom Hayden and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. “All of us remember that the Pentagon got us into this war in Vietnam with its version of the truth,” Hayden said in an interview with The New York Times. “If you conduct a war, you shouldn’t be in charge of narrating it,” he added.
Veterans for Peace (VFP) is organizing an alternative commemoration of the Vietnam War. “One of the biggest concerns for us,” VFP executive director Michael McPhearson told the Times, “is that if a full narrative is not remembered, the government will use the narrative it creates to continue to conduct wars around the world – as a propaganda tool.”
Indeed, just as Lyndon B. Johnson used the manufactured Tonkin Gulf incident as a pretext to escalate the Vietnam War, George W. Bush relied on mythical weapons of mass destruction to justify his war on Iraq, and the “war on terror” to justify his invasion of Afghanistan. And Obama justifies his drone wars by citing national security considerations, even though he creates more enemies of the United States as he kills thousands of civilians. ISIS and Khorasan (which no one in Syria heard of until about three weeks ago) are the new enemies Obama is using to justify his wars in Iraq and Syria, although he admits they pose no imminent threat to the United States. The Vietnam syndrome has been replaced by the “Permanent War.”
It is no cliché that those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. Unless we are provided an honest accounting of the disgraceful history of the US war on Vietnam, we will be ill equipped to protest the current and future wars conducted in our name.
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. A veteran of the Stanford anti-Vietnam War movement, she is co-author (with Kathleen Gilberd) of Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent. Her latest book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues, will be published in October. She is also co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign.
Communist Vietnam’s Neo-Colonizing Policies Must Be Stopped to Prevent the Destabilization of Southeast Asia and the Continuing Human Rights Violations of the Indigenous Populations.
Communist Vietnam’s Neo-Colonizing Policies Must Be Stopped to Prevent the Destabilization of Southeast Asia and the Continuing Human Rights Violations of the Indigenous Populations.
Communist Vietnam’s policies and practices were observed to be the major source of destabilization of Southeast Asia, if allowed to stay the current course.
By PR Newswire
October 17, 2014 10:21 AM EDT
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.sys-con.com/node/3213085
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A Southeast Asia Conference was recently held in Washington, D.C., featuring diverse, local and international, speakers from Hawaii, Thailand and France as well as Laotians, Khmers, Montagnards and Americans with related expertise and experiences from academic institutions, business communities, and Law firm and past US government involvements. There were also screenings of interviews with Mr. Sovan Pen, the very first Prime Minister of Cambodia during the Vietnamese occupation and former prisoner in Hanoi on the Vietnamese government true objectives on Cambodia, and Dr. Mong Hay Lao on geopolitics of Southeast Asia. Vietnam neo-colonization of Cambodia and Laos had been further explored by the audience’s questions & answers session and open discussions. The conference participants were very actively engaged in drawing up the conference 14-point Resolutions, of which an unsigned copy is as follows:
Resolutions of the Southeast Asia Conference 2014
Washington, DC October 4 & 5, 2014
This document contains the resolutions of the Southeast Asia Conference 2014, organized by the Khmer People Network for Cambodia (KPNC) and Laotian Human Rights Council (LHRC). The conference was held in Washington, DC on October 4th through 5th, 2014 entitled “Vietnam’s Destabilization of Southeast Asia and Tragic Human Rights Violations.” The conference working group presents these resolutions to the US government for implementation. This is the work of civil society from Cambodian and Laotian Americans concerned for the stabilization and security of the people of Southeast Asia. As Americans, we are concerned for US self-interests in the area and present these recommendations to our government holding in all seriousness the best interests of our beloved country the United States of America.
These are presented to the Foreign Relations Committees of both the Senate and the House with the hope that along with the administration, you will incorporate them into US policy. We hope that our government will work with civil society to improve our relations with the governments of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and to avoid more violence which has claimed the lives of Americans, Cambodians, Laotians and Vietnamese in the last 50 years.
The participants stand ready to dialog with our government and request that a commission be established to further that dialog and implement these resolutions. The resolutions will come alive as we work through this commission. Dialog is the way of Peace that replaces the current deafening silence. The dialog with civil society and implementation of its resolutions places the welfare of all the people involved in high esteem.
Resolutions presented to the US Government
We ask that the US government:
- For the sake of stability and security of the entire Southeast Asia region, put pressure on communist Vietnam to stop Crimea-like colonization of Laos and Cambodia. Urge the governments of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to terminate permanently the so-called “Special Lao-Vietnamese Friendship Treaty” of 1977 and to nullify the 2005 Supplementary Cambodia-Vietnam treaties.
- Deny communist Vietnam the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) membership until it makes dramatic improvements in its human rights practices, reforms its laws to meet international labor standards and demonstrates a clear commitment to the rule of law as per the July 29, 2014 letter to President Obama from 33 members of Congress.
- Call for the reconvening of the 1991 Paris Peace Conference on Cambodia and nullify all later agreements and treaties contrary to the spirit of the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991, especially those contrary to territorial integrity, national sovereignty, freedom from foreign interference, and the respect for human rights.
- Call for the reconvening of the 1973 Paris Peace Conference on Vietnam.
- Reinstate the arms embargo to Vietnam, until we can be assured that it is not being used for expansionist purposes and for the repression of civilians.
- Provide technical assistance to develop an independent and more accurate estimate of the numbers of Vietnamese immigrant population in Cambodia and Laos.
- Urge Vietnam to end the intrusion in Laos and Cambodia’s internal affairs.
- Place Cambodia and reinstate Vietnam as “countries of particular concern (CPC)” until they respect religious rights and human rights especially with regards to their indigenous people.
- Create a special commission on US policy and relations towards Cambodia and Laos.
- Call upon the US Government to treat and deal with Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam individually, not to lump all three together as Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are distinct and independent states.
- The governments of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam must open space for civil society, release all political prisoners, and abide by the international human rights covenants to which they are signatories.
- Pressure the Cambodian and Laotian governments to allow their people the rights to freedom of speech, press, and assembly.
- Urge the US government to reinforce the US Lacey Act of 2008, prohibiting the importation of illegal wildlife and logging.
- Stress mutual respect of freedom, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity between Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
VietNamNet Bridge – Experts in Vietnam continue to voice their worries about the Lao government’s determination to build the Don Sahong hydropower dam on the Mekong River.
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/environment/106305/laos-hydropower-plant-threatens-vietnam-s-mekong.html
“It will be a major threat to Vietnam’s Mekong River delta,” said Dr. Pham Bich San, Deputy Secretary General of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA), adding that the dams on the Mekong mainstream will have negative impacts on the ecological environment, especially the lower course.
San cited recent research which found that the Mekong is one of the five biggest river basins in the world which has seen its current reduced the most sharply. The average annual flow in the lower course has declined by 10 percent over the last 30 years.
The Mekong section which runs across Vientiane in Laos has been so depleted in the last 10 years that people can wade across the river in the dry season.
In Thailand, the Chao Praya River, as it’s known by locals, which has traditionally been mild, unexpectedly caused major floods which lasted many months in 2011.
In the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam, salt water has encroached on the Tan Chau area in An Giang Province. This never happened in the past.
The Mekong River has always played a very important role in Vietnamese socio-economic development and regional food security. The Mekong River delta is home to 20 million people who are responsible for 27 percent of Vietnam’s GDP, 90 percent of rice exports and 60 percent of Vietnam’s seafood exports.
“VUSTA has many times in the past voiced its concern about the negative impacts of hydropower dams on Vietnam. Nevertheless, Laos went ahead and built its Xayabury hydropower plant. Now Vietnam needs to have a stronger voice over the Lao Dong Sahong project,” San said.
Professor Dr. Ho Uy Liem, a renowned scientist, some years ago warned that if Xayabury dam was built, it would create a very dangerous precedent for another 11 dams to be set up on the Mekong main stream.
“If so, this will be the destruction of the river,” Liem said. “This will deprive the livelihood of the 60 million people living along the riverside, especially the Vietnamese in the Mekong River Delta,” he said.
And Liem’s warning seems to turn into reality.
Le Bo Linh, Deputy Chair of the National Assembly’s Science & Technology Committee, has also expressed his deep concerns about the Lao decision to build Don Sahong dam, affirming that the work will affect the river’s hydrological regime, causing depletion in the dry season and bringing salinity to Vietnam’s Mekong River delta.
According to Linh, at the international meeting of the Mekong River Commission in April in HCM City, the involved parties approved a declaration which says that countries need to consult with others in the region if they plan to execute construction works on the Mekong main stream.
The Lao government, which promised at the meeting that it would consult with other countries, still has decided to set up its hydropower dams.
Linh said the government of Vietnam needs to express its official viewpoint on Laos building dams on the Mekong River, because it seems that concerns voiced by scientists and environmentalists, institutions and individuals are not enough for the Lao government to rethink the project.
News and Events
The rapid pace of development leading up to the the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is creating opportunities for journalists to find innovative and important environmental, business, investment, health and culture stories. Are you a Mekong-area journalist who reports on social and environmental impacts of development projects such as dams, mines, roads, ports or economic land concessions? Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE) may have workshop, fellowship, resource and networking opportunities for you.
Hanoi, VietNam – A recent press release by International Rivers on 18/06/2014 has confirmed that the construction towards the controversial Don Sahong Dam in Southern Laos has continued despite growing opposition from neighboring governments and ongoing calls for regional consultation. The Don Sahong Dam, which is located on the Mekong mainstream, must undergo the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) as required by the 1995 Mekong Agreement. Nevertheless, the Lao government argues that Don Sahong Dam would not have to go through the PNPCA since it is not located on the mainstream. Laos continues to move forward unilaterally with this project despite opposition from regional communities and the governments of Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
2nd VRN’s letter to Kasikorn Bank, Siam Commercial Bank and Bangkok Bank: Careful consideration and suspension of the loan to the Xayaburi hydropower dam project.
The Xayaburi project is the first dam under construction, among 11 dams proposed on the lower Mekong mainstream. Many studies have already highlighted that the dams will cause severe impacts to the fish migration in Mekong River. Moreover, the dam will block sediment flow along the Mekong mainstream. The sediment prevents the Mekong Delta sinking and shrinking, and is the main source for the fertile delta land of Vietnam, which is known as the world’s rice basket. By unilaterally pushing forward with the project, Lao PDR has violated the 1995 Mekong Agreement signed by Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. Thus the project has been designed, and constructed started, without complying with the Mekong River Commission’s Procedure of Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA), which is mandatory for all mainstream projects on the lower Mekong River.