Democracy Activist, Professor Nguyen Chinh Ket, is touring the U.S., Australia and Europe

Professor and democracy activist Nguyen Chinh Ket yesterday spoke before a full theatre at the Conservative House about democracy and the human rights situation on Vietnam yesterday. Conservative Party leader Ms. Erna Solberg spoke about the Conservative Partyís long-term work the strengthen human rights position in the world.

Professor Ket joined the battle for religious freedom in 2000. Because of his determined fight for freedom and democracy he has become on of Vietnamís leading human rights advocates.

He has been refused an exit visa from Vietnam, but in December 2006 he managed a night-time escape to Cambodia. He is now wanted in his home country and will probably be arrested upon his return.


These days professor Ket travels about America, Australia and Europe to tell about and gather support for the fight for democracy in Vietnam.


He used the meeting to tell about the general human rights situation inVietnam, which has deteriorated, and what pressure from abroad that Vietnam authorities are exposed to. In addition he spoke about the work of the Alliance for democracy and human rights, and Block 8406. Block 8406 published in April 2006 a manifest for freedom and democracy. This was the beginning of the growing engagement against the communist government in Vietnam.


Professor Ket concluded his speech with what the rest of the world could contribute with. He stressed the importance of a country like Norway putting pressure on Vietnam to adhere to human rights, introduce real democracy and give its people its liberty.


Conservative leader Ms Erna Solberg spoke about the Conservative Party`s long-time workd to strengthen the position of human rights  in the world, and how democracy is the corner-stone of development. Human rights are basic and is valid for all people.

Risking arrestation in Vietnam


While Nguyen Chinh Ket discusses human rights with Norwegian politicians, his home in Vietnam was searched by the police and his documents were confiscated.


By John Einar Sandvand


- This interview is part of my assurance when I'll return to Vietnam , tells Professor Nguyen Chinh Ket to Aftenposten.

The more attention he gets in the West, the more difficult would it be for the Vietnamese authorities to put him in jail, he hopes.


Nguyen Chinh Ket is one of the opposition leaders in Vietnam . Last winter, he was one of the initiators of an open manifesto for freedom and democracy. In November he was one of the founders of the Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights. The Alliance has openly challenged the lack of basic human rights in Vietnam and advocates an introduction of a system with multiple parties.


The engagement for democracy has not gone unpunished. Right this week, while Nguyen is paying his visit to Norway , the police visited his family in Vietnam . ‚Äď The house was ransacked and several of my private documents were confiscated. They told my wife that I would be arrested and put in jail for four months if they catch me, he says.


Wants to go home.

Despite that, this professor had decided to go home. He sneaked out of Vietnam in December, through the border of Cambodia , because he was convinced that the authorities would not give him permission to leave the country. He is now travelling in USA and Europe to gain support for the rising democracy movement in his homeland. In two months he will return.

- Don't you risk arrestation immediately when you arrives your home country?

- Possibly. But it can happen that the authorities would be reluctant because they see how much attention I've got in the West.


Lacking rights

In a way Vietnam has been open towards the outside world since the mid-eighties. The country has experienced a strong economic growth, and foreign investments have been rising to the sky. Nevertheless, the lack of basic democratic rights is as big as before, according to Professor Nguyen. Still, no political opposition is allowed and there is little freedom of expression.



The group of dissidents who dare to oppose are subject to regular harassment from the police, says Nguyen Chinh Ket. His house has been ransacked several times, his computers confiscated and during several time periods, he had to go the police station daily for interrogations and answering for his so-called "undermining" ideas. He was constantly kept under surveillance by the police and had to set out sophisticated cover-up in order to meet with foreigners.

Meetings with Norwegian politicians

This week, Mr Nguyen has had several meetings with Norwegian politicians, included Parliament members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs. All politicians receive the same message: The West has to put pressure on Vietnam when agreements on trade and investments are entered. Only by this way, the Communist Party will bow to small steps in the right direction, he says.

- You know you can be put in jail. Nevertheless, you'll return to Vietnam . What's driving you?

- Freedom and democracy has an unlimited value so you have to pay a high price in order to attain it. And I'm willing to pay the price.

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

   how the free world can support the Democracy Movement in Vietnam

Professor Nguyen Chinh Ket - personal information: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 ReligionIn 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.

BackgroundThe 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.