VNTB - Party does have Human Rights magazine!

Kieu Phong (VNTB) Hostile forces are currently using such terms as “democracy” and “human rights” to peacefully change things all over Viet...

Kieu Phong (VNTB) Hostile forces are currently using such terms as “democracy” and “human rights” to peacefully change things all over Vietnam soil, according to instructions of the Commission for Propaganda and Ideological Education given to the nation’s youth and people working in the State-owned sector. So effective are these teachings that some policemen refer to civil society activists as “a democracy bunch” or “a human rights bunch”. Nonetheless, “a human rights bunch” has somehow found its way to a government-owned place not too far away: the Human Rights Magazine editorial office being quietly located at 6 Chua Mot Cot, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.

A monthly, this magazine is not often seen lying on humble newspaper stalls like others each morning. It is not easy for a hug-Honda driver, commonly referred to as “Honda om”, to see one on newspaper stalls in Saigon or Hanoi. The reason behind this is that, unlike the widely read Tuoi Tre and Thanh Nien newspapers, popularizing the magazine is something unwanted. Why so?
A Ho Chi Minh City polytechnic student reads two issues of the “Human Rights” magazine provided free of charge.
So significant and flexible is the concept of “human rights” that the authorities do not want citizens to have it on their mind and ponder on it. Of course the State can manage to control the contents of pieces of writing in it, but the term “human rights” on its very cover is quite novel and strongly impresses every individual. That is beyond the editor’s orientation.

With regard to certain government agencies, however, a limited number of the magazine is distributed. For instance, the central library of the National University in Ho Chi Minh City is supplied with some human rights magazines, which are later provided free of charge to students. In spite of this, not many feel attached to the free offering: almost a heap of the magazines received early each month remains numerically unchanged when counted by the librarian by the end of the month. For a pretty long time, Human Rights magazines keep lying there, waiting to be taken away. Meanwhile, scientific and specialized journals are read and borrowed by students for occupational studies in preparation for graduation work and future well-paid jobs.

Meanwhile, human rights appear to remain “a dish” unlikely to be eatable and the number of socially conscious of students is painfully small. Moreover, not quite a school subject whose average score is included in the graduation requirements, Human Rights [magazine] has failed to attract readers in the library of the National University. Normally, there is a considerable delay of 5 months before the magazine is acquired to be available to students. For example, it is now March, 2018, but the Human Rights magazine being on display was published in September, 2017, indicating a nearly 6-month delay.

The Communist Party has intended to introduce human rights into schools as a subject, and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was assigned to sending a signal to public opinion. It is not certain whether it is true, but the PM did use the term “rights of humans” instead of “human rights”. The precaution the authorities took to use a longer term, which includes three words instead of two, reflexes a more superficially expressive implication. Either the Communist Party declines to understand “human rights” as defined by western societies, or the Party, in an effort to reduce pressure, reluctantly says a few words to the international community with regard to the implementation of human rights international conventions and laws they themselves participated and signed.

Translated by Kate Chesterson 
Source: VNTB

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