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Petition seeks end to abuses of power

Bishops add names to online call for freedom reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

January 22, 2013

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An internet petition circulating within the country has called on the government to revise the constitution to include provisions for public sovereignty, human rights and private ownership.

“The constitution must first aim to ensure the safety, freedom and happiness of the people, and limit the abuse of power,” stated the petition, which was launched yesterday.

The petition, which carried the digital signatures of 72 intellectuals and activists, followed the posting by state-run media of draft amendments to the constitution ahead of a public referendum that begins this month and runs through March. 

Included among the signatories of the petition were Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop of Vinh and Father Joseph Mary Le Quoc Thang of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, and Father John Baptist Huynh Cong Minh, vicar general of Ho Chi Minh City archdiocese.

The petition further stated that the people should be the ones who have the final say on the nation’s constitution, and that the government’s proposed draft, which stipulates that the Communist Party of Vietnam controls the state and society violates human and civil rights and the rule of law. 

Citing the collapse of Communism in Europe and the former Soviet Union, the petition further stated that only a free, democratic and multi-party state would serve the common good of all the country’s citizens.

“The Communist Party will have opportunities to restore the trust of the people” if such proposals are accepted, the petition stated. 

The signatories also drew attention to the current constitution, which was revised in 1992, and its endorsement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and stated that these rights have never been exercised in reality.

The petition is to be sent to the National Assembly, which is expected to approve a revised constitution in October.

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