VRNs (Sept 22, 2011) – Ottawa, Canada – September 20, 2011
The Honourable John Baird, PC, MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2
Tel: (613) 995-1851
Fax: (613) 996-3443
Dear Minister John Baird,
I wish to express my deep sadness and frustration at the death of Mr. Truong Van Suong, a Vietnamese political prisoner and former South Vietnamese soldier. After having spent 33 years in prison and six years in a “re-education” camp, Mr. Suong, 68, died on September 13.
Mr. Suong was temporarily released from prison in July, 2010, for a year of medical parole, after which he was reportedly in “good health” prior to his return, despite suffering from heart disease and high blood pressure. For reasons unknown but undoubtedly unacceptable, the Vietnamese Government has refused to release Mr. Suong to his family and have chosen instead to retain his body for three years. His family is left in want and to suffer, unable to give him the proper burial he deserves. Again, for what reason, we can only guess; however, the Vietnamese Government must release his body, if only as a display of compassion and humanity. To hold the body of a deceased individual smacks of inhumanity and requires immediate action on our part, not simply to provide some measure of comfort to Mr. Suong’s family but other political prisoners suffering or soon to suffer the same fate.
I refer specifically to Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu and Father Nguyen Van Ly. In your statement released earlier this year on July 27, 2011, you urged “the Government of Vietnam to permanently release Father Ly and the many others imprisoned for peacefully expressing their opinion.” In addition, you expressed how “our government will continue to pursue Canada’s principled approach to foreign policy to advance freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
Now more than ever, we must act and help those individuals imprisoned simply because they chose to believe in democracy. I implore you to have someone at our embassy or consulate in Vietnam to investigate the conduct of the Vietnamese Government, and provide prisoners such as Dr. Vu and Father Ly with much needed medical assistance. Given their advanced age, failing health, and the deplorable conditions in which they are being held, we must stand up and voice our concern in opposition to the actions of the Vietnamese Government.
I thank you for your time and attention, and pray that you will raise this issue before your peers in the House of Commons. These are issues of serious concern that not only violate the core principles of Canada, but, as with the case of Mr. Suong, are simply unacceptable on any human level.
Khanh VU DUC, LL.L., LL.B., MPA