March 7, 2007

Vietnam: Struggle for Democratic Reforms

Professor Nguyen Chinh Ket will speak at the Rafto Foundation about the current human rights situation in Vietnam and how to support the Democracy Movement in the country.

Below is information about an event organized by The Thorolf Rafto Foundation for Human Rights:

Democracy Activist, Professor Nguyen Chinh Ket, is touring the U.S., Australia and Europe, rallying supports for the democracy movement inside Vietnam. He is determined to return to Vietnam after this trip to continue the struggle for freedom and democracy. On Friday, March 9 Professor Ket will visit Bergen, and the Rafto Foundation has invited him to talk about the human rights situation in Vietnam.

In his lecture, Professor Ket will focus on the human rights situation in Vietnam in general, Vietnamese Communist Authorities Facing Popular Pressure, the activities of the Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights and how the free world can support the Democracy Movement in Vietnam.

Professor Nguyen Chinh Ket

Prof. Nguyen Chinh Ket was born in 1952. His family migrated from North Vietnam to the South when Vietnam was divided, in 1954. He studied at St. Pius X Pontifical College, a well known seminary in South Vietnam, and at the University of Da-Lat. In 1978, he left the priesthood and returned to Saigon. He remains active to this day serving the Catholic Church in numerous capacities. He published many books and articles on Christian theology and also taught for many years at different seminaries in Saigon.

Call for Freedom of Religion

In 2000, after Father Nguyen Van Ly renewed the struggle for religious freedom in Vietnam by igniting month's long protest at his parish, Mr. Nguyen Chinh Ket began to voice his support for Father Ly and his call for freedom of religion. Since then, he has been fighting tirelessly for human rights and democracy in Vietnam. Because of his activities, since 2001, he has been targeted by the Vietnamese Security Forces. He suffered numerous detentions, around the clock surveillance, constant harassments, and countless searches at his house as well as being denied all opportunity to hold a job to support his family. Despite the harsh treatment by the government, he remains resolute in his quest for freedom and democracy. Today Professor Ket is a prominent leader of the pro-democracy movement inside Vietnam. Bloc 8406 and the Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights for Vietnam In April 2006, he was among the top leaders of Bloc 8406, a group that released the infamous Manifesto for Freedom and Democracy which ignited the recent waves of challenges against the communist government. In October 2006, he and a number of other prominent leaders founded the Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights for Vietnam which quickly becomes the forefront pro-democracy force in Vietnam.

Background

The 2006 Rafto Prize was awarded to Venerable Thich Quang Do, one of Vietnam's most prominent defenders of democracy, religious freedom and human rights. He received the prize for his personal courage and perseverance through three decades of peaceful opposition against the communist regime in Vietnam, and as a symbol for the growing democracy movement in his country.

On February 7 the Rafto Foundation received a letter from the Vietnamese embassy in Copenhagen informing that a long planned visit to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to meet with Vietnam's leading dissident, Venerable Thich Quang Do, is not possible. The Rafto Foundation is accused for harming good relationships between Norway and Vietnam.

The seminar with Professor Nguyen Chinh Ket from Vietnam will take place on Friday, March 9 at 16:30 at the Rafto House, Menneskerettighetenes plass 1, Bergen, Norway.