Vietnam and BurmaViet Nam and Burma
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Myanmar-Vietnam relationships relate to the historic and present Myanmar-Vietnam relationships. They are both members of ASEAN and have had relationships between two states. Burma has an embassy in Hanoi and a General consulate in H? Chí Minh City, while Vietnam keeps its ambassy in Yangon. Myanmar's policy reform transformed the Myanmar policy environment and Vietnam became an proactive actor.
Whilst China, India and Thailand have remained in Myanmar as the country's main focus of investment, several Namibian firms such as Viettel and Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group have strengthened their operations in Myanmar. Vietnam is one of the top 5 phone investment firms in Myanmar, while Hoang Anh Gia Lai has become a major investment in Myanmar.
It may have voiced its grave concern about Vietnam's strong ties with Myanmar politically and economically; the former has a long history of historic animosity towards China and even waged a 1979 one.
Run to the bottom: Myanmar and Vietnam move in the opposite direction when it comes to humanitarian issues
Phillipe Robertson is Vice President of the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch. Prime Minister Nguyen Van Dung visiting Myanmar in April 2010 said to the heads of state that Vietnam supports the country's "roadmap" to democratisation. Later on, at the end of the sixteenth yearly ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, he said that the upcoming "elections should be free and free and inclusive of all parties" in Myanmar.
This was a truly amazing testimony from the head of a one-party regime, in which the governing Communist party of Vietnam plays a constituent part as" the power that takes over the governance of the state and society" and the regime tightly monitors the election. The majority of commentators believed that Vietnam was again acting as the simple leaders of the so-called CLMV block of ASEAN (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) of strict dictatorial states, pursuing its attempts to alleviate criticism and curb the imposition of financial penalties on Myanmar through ASEAN dialogues with Australia, Canada, the US and the EU.
Just over six month later, on 7 November 2010, Myanmar voted to elect members of a parliamentary assembly in which 25 per cent of the country's seat is reserved for the United States. In the days when Prime Minister Dung was speaking, Myanmar's sad balance - junta government since 1962, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi under home detention, hundred of detainees, forced repression of road protest, dramatic legislation and constant repression of civic and politics - made Myanmar an exception even among its ASEAN neighbor.
Only a few would have suspected that in two years, in 2012, politicians and reporters would openly compare Vietnam and Myanmar to see who deserved the non-enviable name of the world' s biggest violator of humans in ASEAN. To a certain degree, of course, these are game of diplomacy - because for a sacrifice, the violation of fundamental freedoms is terrible where it is.
However, while Myanmar intends to take over the presidency of ASEAN in 2014, those who are of course worried about people' s concerns about people' s right to be in the area wonder whether it is possible for some kind of rivalry between Myanmar and Vietnam not to be at the end of the scale, and that this could help to improve the record of people' s right in both states.
Although it still has a long way to go, Myanmar under President Thein Sein's administration has taken some important steps to change its hitherto frightening record on people. In particular, the regime has removed the limitations and permitted Aung San Suu Kyi and her fellow countrymen in the National League for Democracy (NLD) to stand in the by-elections on 1 April 2012.
However, much of the Myanmar reforms are characterised by giving with one side and withdrawing with the other. More than 600 Zargana and Khun Htun Oo were freed for world recognition, including high-ranking political detainees such as Min Ko Naing and other campaigners who led the 1988 democratic rebellion, the celebrated Zargana playwright, and leading members of his people.
However, the outside of Myanmar the rest of the hemisphere has not seen many of them - Zargana is an exemption - because the regime has declined to give them a passport. It has also kept secret about several hundred less prominent detainees who are still behind grids in the country's obscure prisons system. AAPP, the Thailand-based Assistance Association for political prisoners, founded and led by former exiled Myanmar detainees, says there are at least 394 more detainees in jail, with another 424 people whose cases were still under investigation by AAPP as of September 1, 2012.
One group in Yangon, the former prisoner network, recently questioned detainees who had been set free and now estimate that up to 445 prisoner politicians will stay in jail. Expert commentators have noted that many incarcerated members of national minorities, in particular Rohingya from the states of Arakan and Kachin in the far northern hemisphere, are unlikely to be on the register and must also be set free.
In order to get to the bottom of this question and make sure that all of Myanmar's detainees are freed, the Myanmar authorities should consent to the establishment of an audit committee with full and independent access to information on the number of remaining detainees. Burma has cease-fires with many non-state gunmen, among them the Karen National Union (KNU), which has led one of the longest ongoing uprisings in the game.
The President's Office's Aung Min has been meeting ethnical leader, exiles democratic groups, NGOs and others to urge conciliation in a string of gatherings that would have been inconceivable two years ago. Older exiles such as Maung Maung, a labour union member, former Naing Aung and Moe Thee Zun, former students' leader, and Thaung Htun, an internationally active politician, were able to come back to Myanmar.
Important policy questions such as the decentralisation of sovereignty, governmental and governmental relationships and responsibility for past violations of international humanitarian law have not been put on the negotiation tables. In Kachin State, where the fierce battles between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and GAF continue undiminished, the Myanmar Army's tactic of targeting civilian populations and perpetrating serious violations of international humanitarian law has hardly changed.
More hopefully, Myanmar has concluded firm commitments with the International Labour Organization (ILO), complemented by in-depth plan of actions to end the use of hard labour, and with the UN field force to stop the use of children-laborers. In an important move to consolidate freedom of the written word, on 20 August, the Ministry of Information published on the same date a number of in-depth directives for the mass communication industry that prohibit criticism of the administration or its policy.
Clearly, much remains to be done as a number of oppressive legislation that has so far been applied against policy makers remains in place - such as the Law on Illegal Associations, the State Protection Act and the Emergency Act, to name but a few. However, despite the reform reverse potentials, especially given the historic roles of the Myanmar army and the powers conferred by the 2008 constitution on the army to stay out of the hands of a supposedly civil regime, the Thein Sein administration seems to have largely pleased the global democracy agenda.
Despite the opposition of defenders of human Rights in Myanmar and abroad, the United States, the European Union and its member states, Australia and Canada have argued that a gradual trial would have had a better leveraging effect to make sure that reform continues. Indeed, while the changes have stimulated sustainable reform, they have also fuelled a "gold rush" mindset of hyper-optimism in parts of the global fellowship about the "new Myanmar".
While Myanmar is still in the works, albeit upwards in the area of observance of fundamental freedoms, Vietnam is in a fast evolving economical and humanitarian morast. Observing Myanmar on the road to reforms was undoubtedly a nuisance for some of the Hanoiiads.
Myanmar has been the most violating member of ASEAN for more than a decade. All in all, Myanmar is the most violating member of ASEAN. That is no small achievement in a group that has been appropriately described by commentators as the "Dictators' Club" since it was established in 1967 by five dictatorial rulers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, and which still comprises Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen and authorities from Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia.
However, now, with Myanmar's reform, diplomatic and relief organizations in Hanoi are asking whether Vietnam is being called an ASEAN CSCR. Although both goverments compile cruel reports on people' s grievances, Vietnam and Myanmar were dealt with quite differently after 1988, with most of the benefit going to Vietnam. In September 1988, Myanmar violently attacked demonstrators of democracies in Yangon and other towns, killed an estimated 3,000 or more people and caused tens of thousand people to escape from the jungle and beyond.
On the eve of the suppression, Myanmar's general established a new state law and order restoration council (SLORC). FDI has been curbed, slowed down and curbed as global defenders of fundamental freedoms and Myanmar's domestic democratic movements have pursued a policies of coercion and sanction that have ultimately brought in a number of West European states.
Meanwhile, in the same year, Vietnam heralded the beginning of its troop withdrawals from Cambodia, which was concluded in 1989 and initiated a trial that would eventually culminate in the Paris peace agreements, the end of the fighting in Cambodia and the normalisation of US-Vietnam ties in 1995. Just as importantly, with doi moi, its economic opening policies, Hanoi is encouraging large US companies to make investments in Vietnam to push for changes in US policies.
The Vietnamese defenders of respect for fundamental freedoms were confronted with insuperable adversities among an investor who wanted to believe that Vietnam was the new Asiatic tiered tigers state. In a hurry, great problems of the Communist Party of Vietnam and its failure to break any resistance were ignored.
It has not been hesitant to infringe upon a right since the reunification of the state in 1975, when it felt itself called into question. Vietnam has seen several strengthening tendencies with the rise of the present Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in 2006. Thirdly, the state has increased the oppression of campaigners and opponents, thereby reducing compliance with the law.
With Vietnam's rate of growth in the country's economy, headed by foods and other essential raw materials, and investments falling due to declining export demands from Vietnam from the fragile EU and US economy, disappointment with the administration is increasing just to be satisfied by a state committed to maintaining order. Autonomous authors, blogs, religious rulers and campaigners who challenge governance policy, uncover formal bribery, defend themselves against seizure and expropriation, call for liberty to exercise their convictions or call for alternative democracy to one-party governance are harassed and monitored as a matter of routine by the law enforcement, imprisoned for a year or more without the right to justice and convicted to ever longer jail sentences in one-day lawsuits for violation of obscure state safety legislation.
Art. 87, "Undermining the unified policy" or Art. 88, "Propaganda against the state", can put an infringer in jail for 15 to 20 years "Disruption of security", Art. 89, can entail up to 15 years in jail. Not even departing the state acquits a perpetrator, since the state has the possibility to impose a lifelong imprisonment for violation of Art. 91, "flight abroad or residence abroad against the rule of the people".
" And, if nothing else is appropriate, there is Catch-all Art. 258, which criminalises "the abuse of political liberties to violate the interests of the state" and provides for imprisonment of up to seven years. Reconsideration of Vietnam's track record shows the continued application of these legislation to criminalise free speech, union and assemblage, resulting in long jail time imprisonment for campaigners, frequent use of incarceration, systemic bullying and harrassment campaign against campaigners, extensive media coverage and growing attempts to control and limit criticism on the web, systemic assaults on religious and conscientious objection, and the use of coercive labour in prisons and so-called re-education centres.
Surveillance in Vietnam' s jails and other places of imprisonment, particularly in isolated areas, remains very obscure, making it hard to estimate the overall number of people detained for policy purposes, but Human Rights Watch puts the figures at several hundred. Human Rights Watch found in 2011 that the Afghan authorities condemned at least 33 dissidents and campaigners to long jail time and that after their release, these punishments were supplemented by a court-ordered home sentence or strict restriction on mobility.
These were persecuted solely for the exercise of the freedoms laid down in Article 69 of the Vietnamese Constitution and Article 18 (freedom of life and religion), Article 19 (freedom of expression), Article 21 (right to assemble peacefully) and Article 22 (freedom of association) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right, which Vietnam signed on 24 September 1982, and have been regularly ignored ever since.
There is more in the line - Human Right Watch monitors the cases of another 49 individuals brought to justice for their convictions in politics and religion, a listing that comprises two musician, four blogs, thirty-five church-workers, two workers' militants and four landlord and tenant campaigners. However, other Zimbabwean politicians, such as the author and anti-corruption fighter Nguyen Huu Cau, 65, have been virtually overlooked.
Since 1975 he has spent a period of 35 years in jail - the first from 1975-1980 in a re-education centre, the second from 1982 until today because of the detection of bribery by municipal agencies. Father Ly had a number of apoplexies in jail in 2009, with his right hand and right limb paralysed, but the agencies declined to dismiss him from eight years in jail for health reasons.
Special care and nuisance has been reserved by the administration for those unrelated groups who stay outside state-registered and monitored religion groups. Last year, unrecognised Cao Dai branch groups, the Hoa Hao Buddhist cult, independant home Evangelical christian christians in the main uplands and elsewhere, Khmer Krom Buddhist Temple and the United Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) were persecuted by the state.
In 2011, crowds of Catholics mobilized in the run-up to the law activists and CPV dissidents Cu Huy Ha Vu's case, taking tens of thousands of people to Candlelight Guards, shocking the Vietnamese leadership. Among the home detained are the UBCV Supreme Patriarch, Thich Quang Do and Hoa Hao Buddhist Leader Le Quang Liem and Vo Van Thanh Liem.
The Redemptorists, among them Father Pham Trung Thanh and Father Dinh Huu Thoai, were banned from deserting the state. The jail terms for worshipers were high. A tribunal on 26 March 2012 condemned Lutheran minister Nguyen Cong Chinh to 11 years in jail for "undermining the unification policy", art. 87 of the Criminal Law.
There are at least 35 other worshipers currently in custody. Facilitating the exchange of information is the pivotal factor in mobilising measures on questions of colonisation, ethnic freedoms, respect for fundamental freedoms, respect for mankind and the promotion of a pluralist world. In Vietnam, the state graensorship of radios, television and papers made this hard until an online final run became possible.
Approximately 34% of Vietnamese have been using the web since February 2012, fighting for free speech now. Vietnam, in parallel with the increasing opening of the Myanmar web, is proceeding with a bill that has alarmed international web businesses such as Google and Yahoo and fought for freeindex.
This proposal for a regulation, which can be examined at the next meeting of the Parliament, aims to enforce Vietnam's normal online domestic safeguards by using a broader and poorly conceived programming to ban it. There is a vast network of blogs and other online campaigners who are prohibited from resisting the authorities or publishing information that "undermines public order and security" or "sabotages public order and order " or "causes feud and conflict between nation, ethnical groups and religion".
In the near term, the fast growth of the web, which includes the use of socially relevant mass Media such as Facebook, which the Vietnamese can reach through the government's still leaking public safety wall, and the vividness of comments and dialogues on topics that the administration does not like, could lead to a big comedown. Viet Nam and Myanmar began the decades as long-standing associates trained in ASEAN's mantras of "non-interference in the domestic affairs" of member states, often confronted with foreign criticism of their record on people.
However, now the two regimes look more and more like vessels that pass each other at sea and go in the opposite direction to man. In 2015, when Myanmar's nationwide election leaves open the prospect of a genuine transfer of powers from the polls, Prime Minister Dung may deplore his 2010 speech to encourage Myanmar on the road to democratization, especially when his own nation wonders when Hanoi will do it.