The President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) called on Vietnamese youth everywhere to continue to fight for human rights and pledged to support them when possible.
Alice Mogwe, President of FIDH, told RFA reporters during an interview on the occasion of the 41st FIDH Conference taking place in Paris, France from October 23 to 26, 2022.
FIDH was established in 1922 with the goal of protecting peace by fighting for human rights. From a small local group, today FIDH has become an international consortium with 192 branches in 117 countries on five continents, including Vietnam represented by the Vietnam Committee for Human Rights (VCHR).
Due to its consultative status at the UN, FIDH holds many human rights records around the world to update and raise alarms. As a long-standing human rights organization, FIDH’s contribution has also increased over time. Important international contributions can be seen in a few typical examples such as fighting against the execution of the death penalty for two Elders Phan Boi Chau and Phan Chu Trinh in the early years of the twentieth century.
Speaking to RFA, Alice Mogwe commented:
“During the Opening Ceremony tonight, we heard from young people talking about human rights for the future, about the challenges young people face. Digital rights are one of their means – quite a few people today can use cell phones, Whatsapp, all sorts of other ways to promote their opinions and act freely speech, establish a network of communication with each other.
I want to say to young people in Vietnam or anywhere on earth that when human rights are violated, it is time for us to continue to fight. FIDH is here for support and solidarity, supporting you with what we can.”
Alice Mogwe mentioned the theme of this conference is “Action the Only Way to Hope” to call on everyone who cares about human rights around the world to unite and act in any situation.
“The thing to do to break the jam and reach your goal, is you have to connect with other friends. Very magical and important for a Backed Affiliate Network,” said Alice Mogwe.
During this FIDH conference, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a message emphasizing the importance of civil society:
“Civil society is essential for peacekeeping, development, and respect for the rights of every person. Civil society strikes a chord for the hidden voices on the margins, the voices of freedom and independence.”
The Secretary-General of the United Nations has just visited Vietnam from October 21 to 22, when the situation of human rights repression in Vietnam was internationally assessed as serious.
Just before his visit to Hanoi, 14 international human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Article 19 (Article 19), Project 88 (The Project 88) sent an open letter calling for called the head of the United Nations to demand that Hanoi release four Vietnamese civil society leaders who are imprisoned on charges of tax evasion. This allegation has been deemed unfounded by UN special envoys.
Courts in Vietnam this year sentenced four environmental activists to two to five years in prison for the same crime of tax evasion. Among the convicts was Ms. Nguy Thi Khanh – director of the civil society organization Green Innovation Development Center (GreenID) – who won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018.
Also at this FIDH conference, European Parliament Human Rights Subcommittee Chairwoman Maria Arena said the European Parliament has turned a blind eye to human rights violations by partners like Vietnam.
She said the European Union has put human rights and democracy at the heart of its diplomatic relations, especially through Trade Agreements. But when partner countries commit serious human rights violations, the EU turns a blind eye.
She said that in order to protect human rights and true democracy, there must be strong sanctions, but it is not possible to continue doing business as usual when basic rights are not respected.
Vietnam and the EU signed the Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) in June 2019. In February 2020, the European Parliament officially approved this agreement despite calls from some human rights organizations and European parliamentarians, asking the EU to put more pressure on Vietnam on human rights issues prior to the ratification of this agreement.