Association is about to be established with the intention of representing the Vietnamese community in Germany and has been criticized for this intention.
German daily newspaper TAZ February 1, 2023
Author Marina Mai
The upcoming Sunday (December 3, 2023), the “Union of Vietnamese Associations in Germany” (LHHNV in Germany) will be established. This association wants to become the main organization for all Vietnamese associations across Germany and strives to become a public benefit, non-profit organization. According to its Charter, LHHNV in Germany has the purpose of “officially representing the Vietnamese Community in Germany, being the official spokesperson” before the German government as well as the German media. However, upon closer observation, one gets the impression that this association is an extended arm of the Vietnamese embassy in Germany, with the political purpose of enlisting the Vietnamese community for the Vietnamese state.
In fact, at least the Vietnamese embassy supported to a great extent in establishing this association. According to Thoibao.de news, the Preparatory Committee for the association was born at the Vietnamese embassy in Berlin in summer last year and the participants were all people close to the Vietnamese state.
The meeting was chaired by Vietnamese ambassador to Germany Vu Quang Minh. The Chairman of the Preparatory Committee is Mr. Nguyen Van Hien, owner of Dong Xuan Berlin Market, the largest Asian market in Germany. He is the one who often appears in Vietnamese state media and was honored by the Vietnamese state (exactly the Ministry of Public Security) in 2015 for his contributions to Vietnam’s security.
However, the establishment of the association is causing much controversy in the Vietnamese community. According to Vietnamese media, some members have left the Preparatory Committee. Of course, the Preparatory Committee does the job of mobilizing associations. Members of two associations, who did not want to be named, told TAZ newspaper: “We have to participate, all other associations also participate.” And: “The Vietnamese Embassy wants us to participate. Why shouldn’t we do that?”
The person who publicly expressed criticism was medical doctor Hoang My Lam, a member of the Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany – Vietnamese boat refugees after 1975. She told TAZ newspaper: “If the new association claims to be official representative of the entire Vietnamese community in Germany, that is misleading the public. As victims of communist tyranny, we value the values of freedom and diversity and will not allow ourselves to be placed under a unified organization set up by the Vietnamese embassy.”
A female factory manager who has lived in Germany for 14 years also criticized LHHNV in Germany. “The Vietnamese Embassy always initiates the establishment of associations to control Vietnamese people in Germany and it also happens in other European countries. They cannot create a small Vietnam within Germany.” She did not want her name published in the newspaper because she was worried about her relatives still in Vietnam.
Mr. Lars Leuschner, an expert on association law at Osnabrück University- Germany, said whether the new association can operate for public benefit (non-profit) if it does not allow critics of the Vietnamese government to become its members and whether it is politically active. However, he added, the law does not say clearly or precisely about this.
Regarding criticism of the new association, the Preparatory Committee for establishing the association did not want to comment to TAZ newspaper. They refused to answer questions over the phone and did not respond to questions sent in writing.
In some other EU countries, such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Vietnamese Associations have also been established. In Germany, such an association was established in 2011, but in 2018 it was dissolved due to internal disputes. See details here: https://baotiengdan.com/2018/12/10/toa-an-duc-ra-phan-quyet-giai-the-lien-hiep-nguoi-viet-toan-lien-bang- duc-do-dsq-viet-nam-tai-berlin-dung-len/
Translated by Hieu Ba Linh