VOICE holds Vietnam accountable to human rights agreements on mid-term campaign

VOICE delegation at the UN office in Geneva. From left to right: Anna Nguyen, Le Thi Minh Ha, and Dinh Thao. Source: VietnamUPR Facebook page

Haiy Le, October 9, 2017: When the human rights group, Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment (VOICE), sent a delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2014, the delegation was made up of three men and all were citizens of Vietnam. This year, the trio is all female.

“We did not purposely want to have a female delegation,” said Anna Nguyen, Director of Programs at VOICE. A more interesting point, she explained, are the different backgrounds — and continents — the three women come from. Anna is a lawyer born and raised in Australia. Joining her is Le Thi Minh Ha, the wife of blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh who was sentenced in March 2016 to five years in prison by the Vietnamese government for founding and operating a successful independent news blog. The third member is Dinh Thao, a Vietnamese citizen who left her career as a medical doctor to become an activist working out of VOICE’s headquarters in the Philippines and is now stationed in Belgium as the European Union Program Coordinator.

As activists waging a long war against Vietnam’s authoritarian government, they are unbothered by the comments littered on the VOICE Facebook page calling them “dogs” and “liars” who should “die.” The group suspects the comments come from hacks paid by the Vietnamese government. In the spirit of free expression though, the malicious comments are free to stay. It’s the opposite of what Hanoi is doing.

In 2017 alone, Vietnam’s one-party Communist government has detained or sentenced 16 activists under the country’s draconian penal code, and specifically Article 88, which makes it a crime to “propagate” against the government. Human Rights Watch has reported on the country’s long history limiting freedom of expression, which has sent more than 100 activists to prisons. The country’s repression has led to thousands of refugees seeking political freedoms and economic opportunities to live and work elsewhere under more democratic and transparent governance.

VOICE was founded in 1997 as a legal aid office in the Philippines to help stateless Vietnamese refugees resettle in countries, including Australia, the U.S. and Canada. Since then, the nonprofit’s mission has branched out to include advocacy for human rights and the rule of law in Vietnam.

Anna’s career has evolved somewhat similarly. She began her career as a refugee lawyer in Australia where for three years she worked with asylum seekers from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. “That’s when I started to learn about the human rights situation in Vietnam. Instead of helping people leave the country, I wanted to explore why people were leaving in the first place. The war ended in 1975 but why are people still leaving?”

Since joining VOICE in 2014, Anna’s work includes communicating with foreign governments and multilateral organizations, and persuading them to use their influence to put pressure on Vietnam. She also makes sure these foreign bodies hear from independent activists and civil society groups in Vietnam. “Many of these activists are banned from traveling and don’t have a platform, so it’s great that we can give them a voice,” she said.

In 2014, a 23-member delegation from Hanoi met with the U.N. Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a review process on the human rights records of all UN Member States. The Vietnamese government agreed to the implementation of some UPR recommendations and rejected others, notably the release of prisoners and the revision of vague national security laws that are used to suppress human rights.

The goals of this year’s Mid-term UPR Advocacy Campaign are to follow up on the recommendations and to advocate for the prisoners, particularly Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, a technology entrepreneur and blogger who was sentenced to 16 years for “conducting activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” on January 2010; Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, better known by her pen name, Mother Mushroom, is a blogger convicted of “anti state propaganda” on June 2017 and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment; and Tran Thi Nga, a blogger sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment on July 2017 for “anti state propaganda” in her sharing of articles and videos highlighting abuses tied to environmental crises and political corruption. In the past couple of months, there has been a rise in the number of female activists targeted by the government. Mother Mushroom wrote that she was motivated to create a better future for her two children.

The mid-term campaign, which runs from September 15 through October 10, has been in the planning stages since the last UPR. The delegation has organized a marathon of meetings with foreign bodies in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and the Czech Republic to give suggestions on how these groups can exert pressure on Hanoi.

In a recent case that has made headlines for its Cold War style of abductions, a Vietnamese asylum seeker was snatched off the streets of Berlin in broad daylight on August 24 — one day before his asylum hearing — and whisked back to Vietnam on corruption charges. In a meeting with Germany’s Office of Foreign Affairs on September 15, VOICE raised concerns to Annette Knobloch, Deputy Head of Unit of South East Asia/Pacific.

“We made them a number of suggestions and then a few days after our meeting, it was announced in the news that Germany had expelled another diplomat,” Anna said.

As Vietnam’s biggest trading partner in the EU, Germany has influential leverage through its purse strings. There’s also Germany’s development aid to Vietnam, which in 2015 was $257 million distributed over two years.

On top of the meetings with Germany and other foreign governments, the delegates have communicated with UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defender, Michel Forst, and CIVICUS, a group working to strengthen civil society. VOICE’s collaboration with CIVICUS, which has consultative status with the UN, gave VOICE the opportunity to present in front of the UN Human Rights Council on September 19.

“We call on the Vietnamese government to implement in good faith the UPR recommendations it accepted in 2014,” Thao read in her statement. “We call on the UN Member States to urge Vietnam to free all prisoners of conscience.”

Thao said the presentation alone has made the 25-day campaign a successful one for her, in spite of the stressful logistics, the back-to-back meetings and the harassment from the Vietnamese government that she, her colleagues and family in Vietnam have received due to her activism.

After the campaign ends, the delegates plan to follow up on the meetings and maintain the contacts they met. “It’s really easy to meet people but if there’s nothing done after that, there’s no point in meeting them,” Anna acknowledged. They will also start making plans for the 3rd UPR in January 2019, which will involve more people, workshops and a UN session dedicated to addressing Vietnam’s human rights situation.

Being a human rights defender is like running in a marathon, Anna described. “You cannot expect to see the finish line straight away. It’s hard and arduous, and you will need to eventually pass on the baton to your comrades and colleagues. But like all marathons, you will eventually see the finish line.”

Haiy Le is a freelance journalist and previously worked at the San Francisco Chronicle and Newsela. She grew up listening to her father’s stories from the the Vietnam War and became more interested in Vietnamese foreign affairs while studying International Relations and Communication at Stanford University. Follow her @HaiyLe

© 2017 The 88 Project

 

4 things that VOICE changed my life forever

In order to enhance the interns’ public communication skill, VOICE usually organizes presentation competition simulating according to the form of “TED Talk”. They do not only present in Vietnamese but also in English. There will be three TED Talk competitions in one six-months long-term training program of VOICE: two in Vietnamese and one in English.

The following is the script of Hannah Vu’s speech that won the first place in the last TED Talk competition:

My name is Hannah, I am 24 years old. I am an activist from Vietnam, and I am also an intern at VOICE, I have been in the Philippines for 6 months.

6 months ago I wanted to become a rich person with a lot of money, today I still want to become a rich person but of knowledge and loves.

6 months ago I didn’t know how to introduce myself in English, but today I can make an English presentation.

6 months ago, I was single, today I have a very “handsome” boyfriend.

So, why my life has changed too fast? It’s because of VOICE.

Today I will talk about 4 things that VOICE changed my life forever.

Firstly, VOICE gives me an opportunity to go back to school. I had to leave my school when I was 15 years old because of family problems. My dad passed away when I was 10 years old. After that, my family didn’t have enough money for me to continue in school.

Going back to school always is my dream, but it seemed impossible. That’s why when I got VOICE scholarship and came here, I have to say as my dream comes true. At VOICE school, I have classes, I have teachers, I have classmates and I can learn everything what I loved to.

The second thing that VOICE changes me is respecting the differences. Before I came here I didn’t hate but I also didn’t like LGBT people, now I really love them. Before I came here it was very easy to make me angry if someone say something not good about my religion, but now I feel comfortable and I want to hear more from them. I have to change myself a lot because of VOICE working environment. At VOICE, there are people from different regions of Vietnam: the North, the South, and from the center. There are also different religions: Catholics, Christians, and Buddhists.

VOICE gave me a lesson: the only way we can live together happily is for us to respect the differences of each other.

Bốn điều VOICE đã thay đổi cuộc đời tôi

Thirdly, VOICE makes me more confident. When I first came here, my English was zero, as our office manager used to say: when I came here, even I could not spell my name. But today I can stand here and do a TED talk in English in front of all of you. Next month, I am going to some conferences abroad and I will have some English presentations. The important thing is I believe that I can do well. I know I still need to improve more, but I think it’s good for me for six months.

And not only English but also a lot of skills that VOICE gives me. I cannot imagine myself a worker 3 years ago can do all things what I am saying today. 3 years ago I even didn’t know how to use computer, I didn’t know what Microsoft word or excel is. VOICE helps me to achieve the impossible things. I know I tried my best, but I understand that I cannot try myself without VOICE.

Finally, that VOICE changes me. After 6 months I can see my passion more clearly. I know who I want to become and what I need to do to help our country.  And, after 6 months, I got a lot of skills, experiences.

Today I can see the big picture of Vietnam. I know how to build a team of people with the same vision and mission, I know how to start a social project and make a good campaign.

Today I am confident to say: I am a young person, I am an activist, I will contribute to democratic process of Vietnam. And I will inspire the other people.

Every day there are many opportunities coming to us. For me, I am very happy about what I did choose 6 months ago, it was my opportunity.

In our lives , there are many turning points. To me, until now, the most wonderful turning point in my life is coming to VOICE.

Thank you VOICE.

Thank you for listening.

VOICE Bangkok Introduction

VOICE Bangkok officially set up its permanent presence in December 2015 and is led by VOICE’s ASEAN Program Coordinator, Anna Nguyen. VOICE Bangkok is responsible for the following:

  1. Refugee: Humanitarian and legal assistance to the stateless Vietnamese asylum seekers in South East Asia
  2. Advocacy:
    a. Implementing advocacy strategies involving the promotion of human rights in Vietnam as well as raising awareness on behalf of Vietnamese human rights defenders at risk and political prisoners.
    b.  Seeking humanitarian assistance for human rights defenders at risk and families of political prisoners.
    c.  Filing communications on behalf of Vietnamese human rights defenders and political prisoners through the use of various UN Special Procedures, such as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
  3. Training: Finding internship and training opportunities for the long-term interns in Manila.

Our achievements so far:

  • Resettling at least 90 Vietnamese stateless asylum seekers that had been left stranded in Thailand for 27 years to Canada (since 2014)
  • Receiving at least 50,000 USD from a number of international NGOs and bodies for human rights defenders at risk and families of political prisoners
  • Developing a close working relationship with the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Vietnam Human Rights Desk Officer of the US and Swedish Embassy, and international NGOS including Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Forum Asia, and Amnesty International for advocacy purposes

Giới thiệu về văn phòng của VOICE tại Bangkok - Thái Lan

Giới thiệu về văn phòng của VOICE tại Bangkok - Thái Lan

EU’s lawyers’ letter to VN’s PM on Nguyen Van Dai’s case

Full version

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc
Office of the Prime Minister
1, Hoang Hoa Tham
Hanoi Socialist
Republic of Viet Nam

Brussels, 9 June 2016

Re: Concerns regarding Vietnamese lawyer Nguyen Van Dai

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), which, through the national Bars and Law Societies of the Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area, represents more than 1 million European lawyers. In addition to membership from EU bars, it also has observer representatives from a further thirteen European countries’ bars. The CCBE places great emphasis on respect for human rights and the rule of law, and is particularly concerned with the situation of human rights defenders around the world.

The CCBE wishes to express its serious concern over the situation of Nguyen Van Dai, a human rights lawyer who founded the Vietnam Human Rights Centre and the Brotherhood for Democracy. Mr. Van Dai has been in detention for nearly six months.

We understand that, on 6 December 2015, as he was on his way back from leading a human rights workshop, Mr. Van Dai was beaten with metal bars by men identified as plainclothes police officers. Ten days later, he was arrested just before he was going to meet representatives of the European Union in Hanoi. His house was searched and officers confiscated his computers, USB sticks, cameras, and savings account’s bank book. He was subsequently charged with “spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code, which has been ruled in violation of international law by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Mr. Van Dai has been in detention ever since, awaiting trial. If convicted, he faces three to 20 years in prison.

In this context, the CCBE wishes to draw to your attention the Principle of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (attached), in particular Principles 16 and 22 on Guarantees for the functioning of lawyers, and Principle 23 on Freedom of expression and association.

In view of the above, the CCBE respectfully urges your Excellency to take effective steps to ensure that the charges against Mr. Van Dai are dropped and that he is released, and to guarantee his safety and security. In addition, the CCBE asks you to guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers in Viet Nam are able to express their opinions and perform their professional duties without fear of reprisal, hindrance, intimidation, or harassment.

Yours sincerely,

Michel Benichou
President

Thông Cáo Về Tin Đồn VOICE Là Tổ Chức Của Việt Tân

Tải bản PDF tại đây.

21/4/2016 

Thời gian qua, một số cá nhân và cơ quan an ninh Việt Nam đưa tin đồn rằng VOICE là một tổ chức của đảng Việt Tân và ông Trịnh Hội, Giám đốc điều hành của VOICE, là một thành viên của Việt Tân.

Để phản hồi trước những tin đồn vô căn cứ này cũng như xác định vai trò của VOICE trong tiến trình xây dựng xã hội dân sự Việt Nam nhằm thúc đẩy và bảo vệ nhân quyền, Hội Đồng Quản Trị của VOICE xin làm rõ như sau:

1. VOICE không có mối quan hệ nào về mặt tổ chức với Việt Tân hay bất kỳ đảng phái chính trị nào khác trong quá khứ cũng như hiện tại. VOICE là một tổ chức phi chính phủ, phi lợi nhuận và hoàn toàn độc lập, được đăng ký tại tiểu bang California theo quy chế 501(c)(3) của pháp luật Hoa Kỳ vốn không cho phép việc tham gia các hoạt động chính trị đảng phái.

2. Không có thành viên Hội Đồng Quản Trị nào của VOICE hiện nay, bao gồm cả Giám đốc điều hành Trịnh Hội, là thành viên của Việt Tân hay của bất kỳ đảng phái chính trị Việt Nam nào khác, trong quá khứ cũng như hiện tại.

3. Việc ông Hoàng Tứ Duy, đảng viên kiêm phát ngôn viên của Việt Tân hiện nay, từng là thành viên Hội Đồng Quản Trị của VOICE từ năm 2007 đến năm 2010 không tạo ra mối quan hệ nào về mặt tổ chức giữa VOICE và Việt Tân. Ông Hoàng Tứ Duy tham gia Hội Đồng Quản Trị của VOICE khi đó với tư cách cá nhân, không phải với tư cách đại diện của Việt Tân.

Tuyên bố này không đồng nghĩa với việc VOICE chống lại bất kỳ đảng phái chính trị nào. VOICE tái khẳng định lập trường ủng hộ một nền dân chủ cho Việt Nam với sự tham gia mạnh mẽ và hiệu quả của người dân, trong đó có các đảng phái chính trị, vốn là điều kiện để phát triển một xã hội dân sự lành mạnh.

Các thành viên Hội đồng quản trị của VOICE (đã ký):

Chủ tịch: Đoàn Việt Trung
Thành viên: Jaclyn Fabre/Maxwell Vo/Jessica Soto/Trịnh Hội

— Hết thông cáo —

Joint Statement Calling for the Release of Vietnamese Activists: Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha

On 16 December 2015, prominent human rights lawyer, Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, 46, and his colleague, Ms. Le Thu Ha, 33, were arrested at their home and office in Hanoi, Vietnam, respectively. Both have been charged with “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code, a law that has been routinely and arbitrarily invoked by the government to suppress critical voices.

Human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai

Mr. Nguyen and Ms. Le are being held in B14 prison in Hanoi. Requests by activists to visit them have been rejected and there are concerns that they are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. If convicted, Mr. Nguyen and Ms. Le could face up to 20 years in prison.

We appeal to the Vietnamese government to honor its international and domestic obligations and to release Mr. Nguyen and Ms. Le immediately and unconditionally.

We also call on the international community to act and put pressure on the Vietnamese government regarding these cases which have a severe chilling effect on freedom of expression in Vietnam.

During Mr. Nguyen’s arrest, his home was searched thoroughly by approximately 20 police officers. His laptops, bank documents and many other personal items were confiscated, while his apartment remains under tight surveillance.

Mr. Nguyen is a well-known peaceful campaigner for a multi-party democracy and the protection of human rights in Vietnam. He has devoted his life to providing legal assistance to the most vulnerable and marginalized people in society.

Mr. Nguyen has repeatedly been subjected to unwarranted persecution for undertaking his legitimate work. In 2007, he was convicted under Article 88 of the Penal Code (employing propaganda against the state) and sentenced to 4 years in prison and placed under 4 years of house arrest. At the time, he had been holding seminars to teach students about the fundamentals of a free society and the rule of law.

Activist Le Thu Ha

Since Mr. Nguyen’s release from prison in 2011, he had been subjected to countless incidents of harassment and surveillance by police officers. He was still recovering from injuries sustained from a vicious assault by masked assailants on 6 December 2015, after he had attended a meeting to mark International Human Rights Day. He was badly beaten, robbed and thrown on the street.

Vietnam has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (ICCPR), which protects the right to freedom of opinion and expression (Article 19), and the right to liberty and security of a person, which includes the right to not be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention (Article 9).

The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers specifically affirm that lawyers are “entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly” and that, “they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights”. The Basic Principles also set out a number of guarantees to ensure that lawyers are able to fulfill their professional roles without undue interference.

Furthermore, Vietnam’s Constitution protects the right to freedom of opinion and speech (Article 25) and guarantees that no citizen may be arrested without a warrant and that the arrest and detention must be in accordance with the law (Article 20).

We therefore strongly urge the Vietnamese authorities to comply with Vietnam’s human rights obligations, and drop all charges against Mr. Nguyen and Ms. Le, who have been peacefully carrying out activities to promote and protect human rights.

We further urge the international community to strongly intervene at the highest possible levels to support the expeditious release of both human rights defenders.

SIGNED:

  1. Amnesty International – ENGLAND
  2. Christian Solidarity Worldwide – ENGLAND
  3. Front Line Defenders – IRELAND
  4. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation – SOUTH AFRICA
  5. Civil Rights Defenders – SWEDEN
  6. International Service for Human Rights – SWITZERLAND
  7. International Commission of Jurists – SWITZERLAND
  8. Freedom House – USA
  9. Human Rights Foundation – USA
  10. Humanitarian China – USA
  11. National Congress of Vietnamese Americans – USA
  12. People In Need – CZECH REPUBLIC
  13. Van Lang – CZECH REPUBLIC
  14. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) – THAILAND
  15. Foundation for Community Educational Media – THAILAND
  16. SHANAH – BURMA
  17. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) – INDONESIA
  18. The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) – INDONESIA
  19. Legal Aid Center for the Press (LBH Pers) – INDONESIA
  20. ASEAN SOGIE Caucus – PHILIPPINES
  21. Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment (VOICE) – USA, AUSTRALIA, CANADA & EUROPE
  22. Brotherhood for Democracy – VIETNAM
  23. Civil Society Forum – VIETNAM
  24. No-U Mien Trung – VIETNAM
  25. Vietnam Path Movement – VIETNAM
  26. Vietnamese Political & Religious Prisoners Friendship Association – VIETNAM

Civil Society and the TPP Negotiations

VOICE, together with civil society leaders from Vietnam, visited the Washington Post in D.C. to give their thoughts on the current situation in Vietnam and how “Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal presents both peril and opportunity.” As noted, “journalist Nguyen Van Hai, one of the political prisoners released last year after six years behind bars, told us, Vietnam’s communists also relaxed their grip a decade ago while pursuing membership in the World Trade Organization — only to crack down again when the United States and other nations moved their attention elsewhere.”

The rest of the article can be read here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-more-open-vietnam/2015/08/23/f6bff4ac-4846-11e5-8e7d-9c033e6745d8_story.html

Voice from our Homeland

Please join VOICE in supporting Tiếng Nước Tôi (“Voice from our Homeland”) a charity night hosted by us –  the Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment. VOICE is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working to develop civil society in Vietnam and to resettle the last remaining boat-people left stateless in Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines.

This night will feature an 8-course dinner and show hosted by human rights lawyer Trinh Hoi. The show will include performances by well-known singers such as Lam Thuy Van, Do Tien Dung, Kimo Huynh Khuu, Nguyen Dinh Cat and Khanh Di, who will be accompanied by the May Trang band.

The event will be hosted at Phu Lam Restaurant (3082 Story Rd. in San Jose, CA 95127) on Saturday, August 15 from 7PM to 11PM.

General admission tickets are $50. VIP tickets, which include a free drink and front row seats, are $75. Tickets for this event are online (http://voice.ticketleap.com/voice-sj-fundraiser/) or at the following retail locations:

  • Pho Viet, 1751 N 1st St San Jose, California 95112
  • Pho Viet, 2557 N 1st St San Jose, California 95131
  • Co Hong Music, Grand Century Mall – 1111 Story Road #1002, San Jose, CA 95122

If you have any questions please contact Amy Nguyen at ntvyhanh@gmail.com.

11 Vietnamese Refugees Arrive in Canada from Thailand

On April 24, a third group of Vietnamese refugees arrived in Toronto, Canada. This is part of the group of the last Vietnamese boat people who had arrived in Canada last November 2014. This group consisted of 3 families made up of 11 people. After being stateless in Thailand for 25 years, they have been accepted into Canada to start their new lives

Việt – Phi ten years reunion

In 2005, nearly 2000 stateless Vietnamese boat people were resettled in the US under a special humanitarian program designed to end their statelessness after languishing for over 16 years in the Philippines. On January 18, 2015, on the 10th anniversary of their resettlement in the US, over 200 former refugees gathered at VOICE’s Executive Director, Hoi Trinh’s house to commemorate the event with their loved ones, former advocates, and friends and supporters such as Reverend Thich Nguyen Thao from Vancouver, Lily Le and Ann Pham of VOICE Canada, Atty. Tran Kinh Luan, Atty. Nguyen Quoc Lan, Fr. Dao, Fr. Trong, Musician Truc Ho, MC Nam Loc, etc. many of whom spent months and years in the 90s and 2000s to assist the group. It was a day long celebration with lots of singing, dancing, outdoor mingling and of course, eating. By the end of the day, along with festivities, they also raised a small fund for the refugees left behind in Thailand which will be given to VOICE.

Việt – Thái Refugee recap

40 years since the end of the Vietnam War and over 20 years after being stranded in Thailand, the last remaining Vietnamese Boat People have been accepted into Canada! The group is to be resettled in Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, Calgary and Toronto – on 13 November 2014, the first group of 28 individuals arrived in Canada, the second group of 39 individuals joined them on 25 November 2014. The remaining families will be arriving in Canada later in 2015.

Joint statement by Australian organisations and community groups 13 February 2015 NEVER AGAIN: LET’S END THE DETENTION OF CHILDREN ONCE AND FOR ALL

“VOICE Australia is 1 of over 200 groups to sign onto a statement to call for the cessation of detaining asylum children. This joint letter follows the release this week of the Australian HR Commission’s report on kids in detention.”

The  report  of  the  Australian  Human  Rights  Commission’s  National  Inquiry  into  Children  in Immigration  Detention  provides  compelling  evidence  of  the  need  for  Australia  to  cease  the
detention of children once and for all. Drawing on  interviews in detention facilities with more than 1000 children and their parents, the report offers a deeply disturbing record of the harm inflicted on so many children by successive governments. The Government, Opposition and all members of the Australian Parliament must take immediate action to ensure that all children are released from Australian-funded detention centres, in Australia and Nauru, and to ensure that these policies are never repeated.

The indefinite mass detention of children is a national disgrace for which both of Australia’s major political parties bear responsibility. Under the Rudd and Gillard Governments, record numbers of children  were  detained,  reaching  a  peak  of  1,992  in July  2013.  Under  the  Abbott  Government, hundreds  of  children  have  experienced  prolonged  detention,  with  the  average  time  spent  in detention rising from three months in August 2013 to more than 14 months in January 2015. In doing this, governments have ignored numerous reports, including from the Commission’s previous national inquiry in 2004, which have outlined detention’s shocking impacts on the mental health of children.

At the public hearings conducted as part of the inquiry, previous Ministers for Immigration Chris Bowen and Scott Morrison both acknowledged that thedetention of children was not an effective
mechanism for deterring boat arrivals or preventingdeaths at sea.

1
Without a clear policy purpose, it is bewildering that this deeply harmful and exorbitantly costly practice has continued for so long. For more than a decade under successive governments, we have watched Australia’s detention policies  go  through  the  same  cycle:  people  are  kept in  indefinite  detention  unnecessarily  for prolonged periods until the human and financial costs of doing so become so high as to compel the Government to make greater use of community-based alternatives. It is high time that we put an end to this cycle.

Australia is the only country in the world to detain children as its first option. In the United Kingdom, for example, the number of children simultaneously in UK immigration detention over the past three years  has  not  exceeded  four,  a  tiny  fraction  of  the number  detained  by  Australia.
2
The  United Kingdom  also  has  legislative  limits  on  the  detention  of  children  which  restrict  the  detention  of families with children in pre-removal centres to a maximum of 72 hours, or seven days if authorised by the responsible minister.

Effective alternatives to detention already exist in Australia – and have done so for a decade. We urge the Australian Government to expand the use ofthese alternatives, ensure that they are used
routinely  for  children  and  families  and  develop  safe  alternatives  to  detention  for  children  now detained in Nauru.

We  reject  the  argument  that  the  welfare  of  asylum  seeker  children  sent  to  Nauru  is  the  sole responsibility of the Government of Nauru. The harmbeing inflicted on children detained there is a
1
Former Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said that detention was “not an effective deterrent” and thatthe “cost on children was too great for any deterrence value”. See Bowen, Chris, Testimony at the AHRC Public Hearings on 9 September 2014 (page 1), available at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/Hon%20Chris%20Bowen.pdf; When asked if the “purpose of long-term detention[is] to deter people from coming to Australia by boat?”, MinisterScott Morrison said “no”. See Morrison, Scott, Testimony at the AHRC Public Hearings on 22 August 2014 (page 25), available at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/Hon%20Scott%20Morrison%20Mr%20Bowles.pdf
2
A comparison of quarterly statistics for the detention of children in Australia and the UK from 2012 to 2014, compiled by Refugee Council of Australia, can be found at http://bit.ly/1CcOG6a.
page 2 direct result of Australia’s actions. Australia wasresponsible for sending children and their families to Nauru against their will, in full knowledge thatthey would face prolonged indefinite detention.

Australia remains responsible for funding the detention centre in Nauru; indeed, without Australia’s support, the centre would cease to operate. After  the  Commission’s  2004  report  into  the  detention  of  children,  the  Australian  Government pledged  that  children  would  be  detained  only  as  a  last  resort.  As  the Commission’s  new  report clearly  shows,  such  non-binding  political  promises  are  meaningless.  We  urge  the  Australian Parliament to:
1.  Introduce legislation to prevent children from being detained for immigration purposes in the future.
2.  End  the  offshore  processing  of  asylum  claims  and return  all  asylum  seekers  currently subject to offshore processing to Australia, prioritising children and their families.
3.  Refer allegations of child sexual abuse in Australian-funded detention centres to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. As the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has  ruled, “the detention of a child because of their or their parent’s migration status constitutes a child rights violation and always contravenes the principle of the best interests of the child.”
3
So long as Australia continues to detain children as a  measure  of  first  rather  than  last  resort;  so  long as  our  laws  fail  to  protect  children  against prolonged indefinite detention; so long as any child remains in detention as a result of Australia’s actions, we will be failing in our duty to protect the best interests of children in our care.

We  have  comprehensive,  consistent  and  irrefutable  evidence  of  the  harm  caused  by  prolonged indefinite detention. We have practical, humane andeffective solutions at our disposal. It’s time to end the detention of children once and for all. It’s time to stand up and say: never again.
This statement is supported by:
Refugee Council of Australia (statement coordinator)
A Just Cause
ACT Council of Social Service
ActionAid Australia
Adventist Development and Relief Agency Australia
Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Australia
Aireys Inlet Rural Australians for Refugees
Amnesty International Australia
Anglican Social Responsibilities Commission, Diocese of Perth
Apollo Bay Rural Australians for Refugees
Asia Pacific Journalism Centre
Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS)
Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Health
Asylum Insight
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Asylum Seekers Centre
Auburn Diversity Services Inc
Australian Afghan Hassanian Youth Association
Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition
Australian Baptist Ministries
Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office
Australian Catholic Social Justice Council
Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
Australian Coalition to End Immigration Detention of Children
Australian Council For International Development
Australian Council of Social Service
Australian Council of Trade Unions
Australian Doctors International
3
Committee on the Rights of the Child, The Rights of all Children in the Context of International Migration: Report of the 2012 Day of General
Discussion, paragraph 78, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/discussion2012/ReportDGDChildrenAndMigration2012.pdf
page 3
Australian Jewish Democratic Society
Australian Lasallian (Asia-Pacific) Foundation
Australian Lutheran World Service
Australian National Committee on Refugee Women
Australian Refugee Association
Australia-Tamil Solidarity
Ballarat Catholic Diocesan Social Justice Commission
Ballarat Community Health
Balmain for Refugees
Baptcare (Victoria and Tasmania)
Baptist Care Australia
Baptistcare Incorporated (WA)
Bayside Refugee and Advocacy Association
Bellarine for Refugees
Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group
B’nai B’rith Australia/New Zealand
Border Crossing Observatory, Monash University
Braidwood Rural Australians for Refugees
Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation
Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project
Brisbane Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support Network (BRASS)
Broadway and Glebe Catholic Social Justice Group
Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia
Campus Refugee Rights Club, University of Melbourne
Canberra Refugee Support
Caritas Australia
Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Office of Justice and Peace
Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, Social Justice Office
Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba, Social Justice Commission
Catholic Immigration Office (Sydney)
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Archdiocese of Brisbane
Catholic Social Justice Commission, Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn
Catholic Social Services Australia
Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace
Centacare South West NSW
Central Victorian Refugee Support Network
Centre for Advocacy Support and Education for Refugees
Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University
Centre for Multicultural Youth
Centre for Refugee Research, University of NSW
Centrecare (WA)
ChildFund Australia
Children’s Healthcare Australasia
Children’s Rights International
ChilOut
Christian Brothers Oceania
Christian Brothers Tasmania
Coalition for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees
Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (Sydney)
cohealth
Combined Refugee Action Group
Common Grace
Communicare
Community Migrant Resource Centre
Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes in NSW
Council of Social Service of NSW
Cyber Christian Community WA
Darwin Asylum Seekers’ Support and Advocacy Network
Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Overseas Aid Fund
Domestic Violence Service Management
page 4
Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands
Edmund Rice Centre Mirrabooka
Edmund Rice Centre Sydney
Edmund Rice Network Tasmania
Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria
Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia
Federation of Liberian Communities in Australia
FHEAL Foundation
Fitzroy Learning Network
Geelong Interchurch Social Justice Network
Geelong Refugee Action and Information Network
Global Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children
God’s Dwelling Place Bethany City Church
Habitat for Humanity Australia
Help – Himalayan Youth Foundation
Horn of Africa Relief and Development Agency
House of Hospitality, Broadmeadow (NSW)
House of Welcome
House of Welcome Ballarat
Humanitarian Research Partners
Hunter Ecumenical Social Justice Network
Immigration Advice and Rights Centre
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (NSW)
Indigenous Social Justice Association
International Commission of Jurists Australia
International Detention Coalition
International Society for Human Rights – Australia
Islamic Council of Victoria
Islamic Relief Australia
Jesuit Refugee Service Australia
Jesuit Social Services
Josephite Community Aid
Justice Connect
Justice for Palestine Matters, Sydney
Justice, Ecology and Development Office, Catholic Archdiocese of Perth
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission, Carmelites of Australia and Timor Leste
Kommonground
Labor for Refugees
Lentara UnitingCare
Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services
Loreto Sisters of Australia and South East Asia
MacKillop Family Services
Marist Sisters
Marrickville Peace Group
Melaleuca Refugee Centre
Mercy Community Services
Mercy Works
Migrant Resource Centre of South Australia
Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Centre
Multicultural Council of Tasmania
Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Australia
Nonlethal Security for Peace Campaign
Northern Settlement Services
NSW Teachers Federation
NT Council of Social Service
Occupational Opportunities for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Oromia Support Group Australia
Oxfam Australia
Partners Relief and Development Australia
Pax Christi Australia
page 5
Pax Christi Queensland
Pax Christi Victoria
Peace and Justice Commission, NSW Ecumenical Council
Peace and Social Justice Network, Religious Societyof Friends (Quakers)
Plan International Australia
Presentation People’s Social Justice Group, Ballina
Presentation Sisters Lismore
Presentation Sisters Queensland
Presentation Sisters Wagga Wagga
Quakers, WA Regional Meeting
Queenscliff Rural Australians for Refugees
Refugee Advice and Casework Service
Refugee Advocacy Network
Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre
Rural Australians for Refugees, Bendigo
Rural Australians for Refugees, Daylesford and District
Safe Asylum
Salvation Army – Eastern Territory
Sanctuary Australia Foundation
Save the Children Australia
SCALES Community Legal Centre
SCARF Inc, Illawarra
Settlement Council of Australia
Settlement Services International
Sisters of St Joseph
Sisters of the Good Samaritan
Sisters of the Little Company of Mary, Australia
Social Justice Ministry, Catholic Parish of Chatswood
Sophia’s Spring Uniting Church, East Brunswick
Spring Creek Community House
St Bede’s Social Justice Group, Braidwood
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia
Stand Up: Jewish Commitment to a Better World
Surf Coast Rural Australians for Refugees
Sydney Justice and Peace Coalition
Sydney Multicultural Community Services
Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support
Tasmanian Catholic Justice and Peace Commission
Tasmanian Council of Social Service
The Grail Australia (NSW)
The Tasmania Opportunity
Townsville Multicultural Support Group
Trinity Aid for Refugees
Union of Australian Women Victoria
Uniting Church in Australia
Victorian Council of Social Service
Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment (VOICE) Australia
WA Council of Social Service
Warrnambool Rural Australians for Refugees
West Wagga San Isidore Refugee Committee
Western Sydney Community Forum
Women and the Australian Church
Women’s Health in the South East
World Wellness Group Ltd

Danh sách quý vị mạnh thường quân ở NEW JERSEY ủng hộ cho VOICE

NAME CHECK CASH TOTAL
Dung/Thanh Nguyen $50.00 $50.00
Anh T Ha/Minh Chau Nguyen $100.00 $100.00
Cu D. Ha/Nhan T. Ha $100.00 $100.00
Chuong D Nguye/Nam Nguyen $200.00 $200.00
BeBe Nails $100.00 $100.00
Thuyet Le/Loni Le $1,500.00 $1,500.00
Ba Thi Nguyen $100.00 $100.00
Cong Dong Nguoi Viet Quoc Gia NY $200.00 $200.00
Viet Nguyen $50.00 $50.00
T & D Gentle Dental Care, LLC $100.00 $100.00
Phuong Tri Le $200.00 $200.00
Quyen Yen Dung $300.00 $300.00
Tam Vo $20.00 $20.00
Phat Le $500.00 $500.00
Hoa Dai Le $40.00 $40.00
Ann Tran $20.00 $20.00
Hong Truong $30.00 $30.00
Meerafzal Fazaldin $300.00 $300.00
Chau Long Le $150.00 $150.00
Phong Huynh $20.00 $20.00
Thu Tram Minh Pham $40.00 $40.00
Muc Su Ngo Dac Luy Boston $100.00 $100.00
An Danh ( Nhieu Nguoi) $108.00 $108.00
$0.00
$0.00
Duong Thai Binh $100.00 $100.00
Vo Hung Phong $200.00 $200.00
Vo Tri Dung $100.00 $100.00
Victoria Pham $100.00 $100.00
John Trinity $40.00 $40.00
Benjamin Chi Dang $100.00 $100.00
Nguyen Thai Quan $100.00 $100.00
An Danh Nhieu Nguoi $1,065.00 $1,065.00
Cao Van Hung $100.00 $100.00
Lan Chi T. Lam & Giao N. Bui $100.00 $120.00 $220.00
Diep Nguyen $200.00 $200.00
Jenni Nguyen $200.00 $200.00
Dr Thuong Le Dinh $100.00 $100.00
Hung M Nguyen MD $1,000.00 $1,000.00
Linh Ho $100.00 $100.00
An Danh $1,443.00 $1,443.00
Tri Glorya Pham $50.00 $50.00
Holywood Nail Linh/Tung $100.00 $100.00
Thara Nguyen Saigon Nail $50.00 $50.00
Van H Le Tracy L Le $100.00 $100.00
Dam Ly $200.00 $200.00
Diep N. Le/Tuyet T. Le $500.00 $500.00
Son Pham/Xuong Nguyen $200.00 $200.00
Thuy Anh Le Kim A Le $200.00 $200.00
Duc Nguyen $100.00 $100.00
Jenny Huynh $40.00 $40.00
Justin Jonhson $20.00 $20.00
Quan Nguyen Betty Huynh NJ $40.00 $40.00
The EZ Band $100.00 $100.00
Tran Thi Ngoc Diep $65.00 $65.00
Rossette T. Nghiem $100.00 $100.00
Caring Dental P.C./Dr. Thanh N. Nguyen $150.00 $150.00
Danh Sach MTQ New York List Attached
Nhuan Le $100.00 $100.00
Kimberly P. Le $200.00 $200.00
Ann Vuong $100.00 $100.00
Nguoi Dep Magazine Inc $100.00 $100.00
Vien Dong New York $100.00 $100.00
TribeCA IM And Acupuncture P.C $500.00 $500.00
Noho Pharmacy Inc $200.00 $200.00
List Attached $3,597.00 $3,597.00
$0.00
$0.00
$0.00
$0.00
$0.00
Danh Sach Boston Mass $0.00
$0.00
Ha Tien Inc $1,000.00 $1,000.00
Boston Vietnamese Media $600.00 $600.00
Jupiter V Institute Incoporate $500.00 $500.00
Pho Le, LLC $500.00 $500.00
NBL Enterprise LLC Ba Le Restaurant $500.00 $500.00
Pasteur Restaurant II INC DD Pho Pasteur $500.00 $500.00
Elegant Nails & Spa $300.00 $300.00
Muoi T. Nguyen $300.00 $300.00
Southestern Dental Care PC $200.00 $200.00
Lees Store Inc $200.00 $200.00
List Attached $800.00 $800.00
Khanh H. Nguyen/Terry T Nguyen $200.00 $200.00
Jean F. Bahier/Christiane Chau Pham-Bahier $1,000.00 $1,000.00
Hoa Luu Germany $100.00 $100.00
Dr & Mrs Nguyen Dang Hung $500.00 $500.00
Vi & Mai Trieu $200.00 $200.00
TOTAL $17,247.00 $6,561.00 $23,808.00

Danh sách quý vị mạnh thường quân ủng hộ NJVACA cho VOICE

Stt Họ và tên T. Phố/T. Bang TN.Viên Số tiền
1 ÔB Lê Quốc-Ánh Nguyệt North Brunswick, NJ NJVACA $100.00
2 Cô Nguyễn Bích Dương Montclair, NJ Bích $100.00
3 Chú An-Quý Hùng Jersey City, NJ NJVACA $100.00
4 A/C Phương & Tuấn Lê Bridgewater, NJ Phương $100.00
5 A/C Timothy Nguyễn Sacramento, CA Trung & H.Anh $500.00
6 A/C Bùi Minh Ngọc Jersey City, NJ NJVACA $100.00
7 A/C Mai & Lộc Hoàng Bridgewater, NJ Trung & H.Anh $100.00
8 A/C Trang & Tiến Nguyễn South Plainfield, NJ Quoc $100.00
9 A/C Ðào Mạnh Hùng Canada NJVACA $100.00
10 A/C Tuấn V. Nguyễn Parsippany, NJ Trung & H.Anh $100.00
11 Hà & Phúc Hoàng Edison, NJ/Florida Trung & H.Anh $200.00
12 Hội Ðồng Hương Thừa Thiên Huế South, NJ Tu Le $200.00
13 SỷHân Ngô/Rot Nguyễn Troy, MI NJVACA $100.00
14 Khánh Nguyễn/Hùng Quách Edison, NJ Trung & H.Anh $100.00
15 L. Phương Nguyễn/Daniel Văn Trần E. Hanover, NJ NJVACA $100.00
16 Ȏng bà Lý Văn Hùng Hillsborough, NJ Trung & H.Anh $200.00
17 Lý Trung & Nguyễn T. Hoàng-Anh Bridgewater, NJ Trung & H.Anh $200.00
18 Ȏng bà Lý Hiếu Hamilton, NL Trung & H.Anh $50.00
19 Ȏng bà Lý Quãng Levittown, PA Trung & H.Anh $50.00
20 Ȏng bà Lý Kiệt Woodland, NJ Trung & H.Anh $50.00
21 Vivek & Huỳnh-Nga Rajgarhia Bridgewater, NJ Trung & H.Anh $500.00
22 Ȏng bà Trịnh D. Vinh Massapequa, NY Trung & H.Anh $100.00
23 Phạm Victoria Edison, NJ Trung & H.Anh $50.00
24 Nguyễn Trí Edison, NJ Trung & H.Anh $50.00
25 Ȏng bà Lê Toàn Parsippany, NJ Trung & H.Anh $100.00
26 Ȏng bà Nguyễn Tự Lực Edison, NJ Trung & H.Anh $50.00
27 Đặng Hưng Tiên & Trần N. Vân Sacramento, CA Trung & H.Anh $200.00
28 Trương Tiên Linh & Hà Diệm Minh San Jose, CA Trung & H.Anh $200.00
29 Phạm Ngọc Phương San Jose, CA Trung & H.Anh $50.00
30 Hồ Thị Kim-Hồng Orlando, Fl Trung & H.Anh $50.00
31 Phan Phương & Quỳnh-Hoa Columbia, SC Trung & H.Anh $100.00
32 T & D Gentle Dental Care, LLC (N/S Khoa Trần) Edison, NJ NJVACA $100.00
33 Mai Trần Nguyễn Audubon, PA NJVACA $100.00
34 ÔB Thuyết Lê & thân hữu Warren, NJ Trang &A. An $1,260.00
35 ÔB Andrew (An) Trương Flemington, NJ Trang &A. An $200.00
36 ÔB Lich Cao (LêThu Nguyễn) Colonia, NJ Trang &A. An $200.00
37 ÔB Thomas Nguyễn Houston, TX Trang &A. An $200.00
38 TN & D Machine, Inc Houston, TX Trang &A. An $200.00
39 ÔB Don Vũ Pittsburgh, PA Trang &A. An $200.00
40 ÔB Hải Lê Sicklerville, NJ Trang &A. An $100.00
41 ÔB Peter Hồ (An Dung) Middletown, NJ Trang &A. An $200.00
42 ÔB Trần Trí Houston, TX Trang &A. An $50.00
43 Bà Mỹ Nga Trần Leonardo, NJ Trang &A. An $30.00
44 ÔB Toản Q. Đàm Annandale, VA Trang &A. An $30.00
45 ÔB Nhị X. Nghiêm Tom River, NJ Trang &A. An $100.00
46 LNC Technology, LLC Bell Mead, NJ Trang &A. An $100.00
47 ÔB Phúc Đức Lê Edison, NJ Trang &A. An $20.00
48 ÔB Jimmy Nguyễn Green Brook, NJ Trang &A. An $110.00
49 T & Son Corp. (Trần Quang) Jersey City, NJ NJVACA $200.00
50 Thắng Ðức Nguyễn Slidell, LA NJVACA $500.00
51 Linh &Tuấn Trương Piscataway, NJ NJVACA $100.00
52 Nguyễn T. Ngọc Hạ Bridgewater, NJ Trung & H.Anh $100.00
53 Chi & Khanh Lê San Diego, CA NJVACA $150.00
54 Eileen Huỳnh (WFG Financial Group) Edison, NJ NJVACA $300.00
55 C.Mỷ Thanh & /BS Dũng Nguyễn Warren, NJ Trung & H.Anh $250.00
56 Thẩm Mỷ Viện Mỷ Ngọc Phan Westminster, CA NJVACA $200.00
57 Loan K. & Toãn Lê Jersey City, NJ NJVACA $100.00
58 C/Thím Tâm/Tiến Nguyễn (Chùa Tường Vân) Jersey City, NJ NJVACA $200.00
59 Cô/Chú Nhật Trần Bayonne, NJ NJVACA $50.00
60 A.Ðức /Chị Nga Hoàng Edison, NJ NJVACA $50.00
 61  Trang Trương  New Jersey  $1,000
 62  Lê Thúy Anh  Hillsborough NJ  $300
63 ÔB Nguyễn Dương Warren, NJ Trung & H.Anh $50.00
64 Cô/Chú Hoàng Lan New York, NJ NJVACA $150.00
65 A/C Cường và Mai Ngọc Phan Bridgewater, NJ NJVACA $50.00
66 A/C Duy & Như Tȏn Bridgewater, NJ NJVACA $50.00
67 Chubb’s Co. match A/C Phương & Tuấn Lȇ Bridgewater, NJ Phương Lê $100.00
Total $11,200.00
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