Activists calling for political reform in Vietnam disagreed this week with official claims that the country is a functioning democracy under one-party rule, saying the government relies on rhetoric and deception to hide its true nature.
Writing in its online journal on Monday, Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security called the Southeast Asian nation a “socialist-oriented popular democracy” that caters to the needs of the people.
Vietnam does not need a multi-party system, because democracy in Vietnam under the Communist Party is “guaranteed and can fully play its role in reality,” wrote article author Phan Duong in an article published just before the 30e anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union.
Speaking to RFA from his exile in Germany, Vietnamese human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai noted that Duong’s article was also published the day the Ministry of Public Security held a national conference, “a very important event â.
“Through this article, they sent a very clear message that the police and security forces must always protect the Communist Party regime,” said Dai, founder of Brotherhood for Democracy Online in Vietnam, an organization advocating for the Communist Party. democracy in Vietnam, most of whose members are now in prison.
Security forces still play a crucial role in protecting dictatorships, Dai said.
âYesterday, as I attended the conference marking the 77e anniversary of the public security forces, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said that these forces should always have “sharp swords and strong shields” ready to protect the Party and the regime at any cost, “he said .
Vietnam’s actions contradict its claims to be a democracy, said Nguyen Tien Trung, a former political prisoner now living in Ho Chi Minh City. “They must assert that Vietnam has a democratic regime in order to continue to deceive those who still believe in the theory of ‘socialist democracy’,” Trung said.
“This justification is vital for the current regime, because all political regimes must maintain their legitimacy in the eyes of their people and the international community,” he said.
True democracy comes from multiparty elections in which people can choose their favorite leaders and parties to rule the country for limited periods of time, Trung said, adding that anyone who points out this simple and obvious truth would be “a thorn in the side of the authorities. . ‘ the eyes.”
“The authorities will crack down, assault and arrest anyone who fights for democracy so that they can prevent their voice and messages from reaching the majority of the people, and this crackdown also acts as a deterrent for anyone considering speaking out.” honestly and courageously about current affairs. political regime, âhe said.
China’s own claims ridiculed
Vietnam’s one-party communist neighbor China also recently called itself a democracy, issuing a white paper and leading a state media campaign ahead of the US-sponsored Democracy Summit on December 9. , a virtual summit of over 100 countries in Europe, North and South America, Europe and Asia.
China’s claim has been ridiculed on social media, while independent academics have said Beijing has failed to live up to accepted attributes of democracy.
The Vietnamese government this year arrested around 40 bloggers and other writers or activists accused of “disseminating documents against the state” or “abusing freedom and democratic rights to violate the interests of the state”, according to RFA and other reports.
In December alone, Vietnamese courts sentenced four journalists and activists to a total of 35 years in prison after trials in Hanoi and the city of Nam Dinh.
And in March, Facebook user Vu Tien Chi was sentenced in central highland province of Lam Dong to 10 years in prison for “slandering the people’s government and top Party leaders” in criminal charges. messages calling for the creation of a National Congress to replace the National Assembly controlled by the Communist Party.
Citizen journalist Le Trong Hung is set to stand trial on December 31 for running for election to the National Assembly earlier this year.
Reported by the Vietnamese service of RFA. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Richard Finney.