Home | About Us | Membership
Technical Assistance | Updates News Archive | Links

 

Leader of dissident Buddhist church calls for lifting of house arrest

24 February 2005
AFP via Yahoo! News

HANOI, Feb 24 (AFP) - The leader of Vietnam's main dissident Buddhist church has urged the communist government to lift a verbal order placing him under house arrest and to clarify his legal status, an exiled group said Thursday.

The Paris-based International Buddhist Information Bureau, the communications arm of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, published a letter sent by Thich Huyen Quang, 86, to major leaders including communist party secretary general Nong Duc Manh.

Quang said he and his deputy, Thich Quang Do, 76, are still under de facto house arrest.

"I... demand the government's accountability on the situation of Venerable Thich Quang Do and myself," Quang wrote.
"We were both placed under house arrest by verbal orders on 9th October 2003... and I have been held under detention since then."

Last week foreign ministry spokesman Le Dung said the two men were "still leading their own lives and practising religion freely" but their "sect (was) no longer in existence."

Earlier this month, in another open letter, Do had launched an appeal for democracy.

The information bureau said Do and other monks tried to visit Quang for the traditional new year early this month but police prevented them from traveling. The telephone has been cut at Do's pagoda since then, it said.

Vietnam has come in for repeated international criticism for its suppression of religious freedoms and constant harassment of political dissidents.

The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam has been banned since 1981 for refusing to submit to communist party supervision.

===

 
Rights groups urge action on Vietnam

1 March 2005
story.news.yahoo.com

NEW YORK, March 1 (AFP) - An international human rights group and a Vietnamese exile organisation urged the US government to maintain pressure on Vietnam to obtain an improvement of its religious rights record.

US-based Human Rights Watch conveyed its request Monday in an open letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"Despite a few well-timed goodwill gestures, such as the recent release of several religious prisoners, Vietnam has in all other respects continued its exceptionally repressive policies," said Brad Adams, Asia Director of HRW.

"Vietnam is notorious for persecuting and imprisoning believers of religions who attempt to peacefully and independently practice their faith."

In September, the State Department designated Vietnam as a "country of particular concern" for its systematic and egregious abuse of religious freedom.

Consultations on religious freedom between Washington and Hanoi are slated to end on March 15, 2005. Washington would have by then to decide whether or not to impose sanctions on the communist country.
Tuesday, Paris-based International Buddhist Information Bureau (IBIB), representing the dissident Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), also asked the US to maintain pressure on the government in Hanoi.
Thich Tri Luc, a monk previously jailed by Vietnam before being released and allowed to leave the country last year, sent a petition to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) asking "not to remove Vietnam from the list of 'countries of particular concern' but to put them to test for a period of time".
The USCIRF currently advise the State department on its final decision. The Vietnamese government imposes strict controls over religious organizations and treats leaders of unauthorized religious groups with intense suspicion, branding many of them as subversives, according to HRW.
 

===


Human rights group urges U.S. to raise issues of religious freedom with Vietnam

Tuesday March 1, 2005
asia.news.yahoo.com

An international human rights group on Tuesday urged the United States to spell
  out clearly what Vietnam needs to do to improve religious rights as a deadlineapproaches for the Bush administration to decide whether to keep Hanoi on itsworst-offender list.

New York-based Human Rights Watch urged U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to "send a strong message" that Washington will not tolerate Vietnamese violations of religious freedom.

"Despite a few well-timed goodwill gestures, such as the recent release of several religious prisoners, Vietnam has in all other respects continued its exceptionally repressive policies," Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said Tuesday that "dialogue continues" on human rights between the United States and Vietnam.

"The U.S. should make sure that any pledges made during these consultations are backed up by prompt action on the part of Vietnamese authorities," Adams said. Vietnam was placed on the U.S. worst-offender list for religious rights last year _ a category called "countries of particular concern" that carries the possibility of sanctions, which could range from private rebuke to economic restrictions.

Ambassador John Hanford, the State Department's top official for religious freedom, was to arrive in Hanoi on Wednesday for several days of talks. Washington has until March 15 to decide whether to remove Vietnam from the category of "countries of particular concern." If Vietnam is not taken off the list, economic sanctions could be imposed.

Human Rights Watch said Washington should urge Hanoi to release all political and religious prisoners, allow religious organizations to govern themselves, and permit outside observers into the country.

Hanoi has taken a series of steps in recent months apparently aimed at reversing its status, including releasing dissidents and relaxing restrictions on public worship.

Last month, Vietnam released two of its most high-profile dissidents _ Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly and Dr. Nguyen Dan Que _ as part of a large-scale prisoner release for the Lunar New Year. Four other religious and political dissidents  were also freed.

The government also announced last month that it would allow Protestant "house churches" to operate in the Central Highlands, where they had previously been banned, as long as they sever ties with an exile group that Hanoi links to a separatist movement.

Vietnam's treatment of the largely Protestant ethnic minorities in the region drew sharp criticism from the United States as well as the European Union following a crackdown last Easter during mass demonstrations by thousands of minority peoples protesting religious restrictions and land confiscation.

Vietnam was accused of trying to force the ethnic minorities to recant their faith, and of continuing to detain leaders of banned religious groups such as the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. Repression involving Roman Catholics, Mennonites and followers of local religions Hoa Hao and Cao Dai has also been documented.
 

===


Letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Religious Freedom in Vietnam

hrw.org/english/docs/2005/02/28/vietna10217.htm
February 28, 2005

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Rice:

We are writing to recommend specific benchmarks that the State Department can articulate in talks with the Government of Vietnam over that country's designation as a "Country of Particular Concern" under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.1 Reinforcing the U.S. government's concern with religious freedom is especially important now. Despite a few well-timed gestures earlier this month, such as the release of two prominent religious prisoners and a directive to stop forcing Protestants to recant their faith, Vietnam has in all other respects continued its exceptionally repressive policies, imprisoning and persecuting believers of religions who attempt to peacefully and independently practice their faiths.

Since the U.S. granted normal trade relations status to Vietnam in 2001, Vietnam?s track record on respecting religious freedom and other fundamental human rights has continued to deteriorate. The Vietnamese government brands all unauthorized religious activities "particularly those that it fears may attract large followings" as potentially subversive. Targeted in particular are ethnic minority Protestants, Mennonites, and members of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV).

Persecution of Minority Christians
Despite the recent high-profile prisoner releases, the Vietnamese government continues to arrest and imprison ethnic minority Protestants in the northwestern provinces and Central Highlands. Human Rights Watch has documented the arbitrary arrest and torture of ethnic minority Protestants, as well as persistent reports of officials forcing minority villagers to abandon their religion and cease all political or religious activities in public self-criticism sessions or by signing written pledges.

Ethnic Hmong Christians in the northwest provinces have been beaten, detained, and pressured by local authorities to abandon their religion and cease religious gatherings. At least ten Hmong Christians remain in detention in Lai Chau and Ha Giang provinces. Human Rights Watch has received credible reports of the beating deaths in 2002 and 2003 of two Hmong Christians by authorities who were pressuring them to renounce their faith. The military presence in several villages in Lai Chau has increased recently, causing many Hmong Christians to flee from their homes.

In the Central Highlands, the government has increased its persecution of members of ethnic minorities (collectively known as Montagnards), particularly those thought to be following "Dega Protestantism." This is a form of evangelical Christianity, banned by the Vietnamese government, which links it to the Montagnard movement for return of ancestral lands, religious freedom, and self-rule. Since 2001, when thousands of  Montagnards first joined widespread protests for land rights and religious freedom, the government has launched an official campaign to eradicate "Dega Protestantism."

The government's crackdown against "Dega Protestantism" which it charges is a political movement and not a religion - has impacted all Montagnard Christians,  whether they are Dega supporters or not.

Since 2001 more than 180 Montagnard Christians - not only Dega church activists, but pastors, house church leaders, and Bible teachers as well - have been arrested and sentenced to prison terms of up to thirteen years. Many have been imprisoned on charges that they are violent separatists using their religion to "sow divisions among the people" and "undermine state and party unity." There is no evidence that the Dega church movement has ever advocated violence. By arresting and imprisoning people for their religious beliefs or peaceful expression of their views, Vietnam is in violation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a party.

Mennonites Jailed

Members of the Mennonite Church have also come under fire in recent years, in part because of the outspoken and at times confrontational style of Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang, the activist leader of the Mennonite Church in Vietnam. He has publicly criticized the arrests of religious and political dissidents, defended land rights cases of farmers from the provinces and used the Internet to call
for religious freedom. Quang and three other Mennonites currently remain in
prison on charges of resisting police officers after a scuffle broke out in
March 2004 with undercover policemen who had been monitoring their Ho Chi Minh
City church. Mennonites in other parts of the country have also encountered
difficulties. On two separate occasions during 2004, officials in Kontum
province bulldozed a Mennonite chapel that doubled as the home and office of
Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, superintendent of the Mennonite churches in the
Central Highlands. In September and October 2004, police pressured Mennonites in
Kontum and Gia Lai provinces to sign forms renouncing their religion.

Abuses against Buddhists

While one UBCV monk, Thich Thien Mien, was included in the recent Tet New Year
prisoner amnesty, the government continues to persecute UBCV members and
withhold any recognition of this group, once the largest organization of the
majority religion in the country. In 2003, four UBCV monks were formally
sentenced without trial to two years' administrative detention. Many other UBCV
members remain confined without charges to their pagodas, which are under strict
police surveillance. Their phone lines are cut or monitored and movement in and
out of the pagodas is restricted. Members of the Hoa Hao sect of Buddhism have

also been subject to police surveillance and at least one Hoa Hao member,
eighty-seven-year-old Ngo Quang Vinh, remains in prison. The sect was granted
official status in May 1999, although government appointees dominate an eleven
member Hoa Hao Buddhism Representative Committee established at that time.

Long-term Imprisonment of Catholics

While relations between Vietnam and the Vatican have improved in recent years,
the government continues to restrict the number of Catholic parishes, require
prospective seminarians to obtain government permission before entering the
seminary, and maintain defacto veto power over Roman Catholic ordinations and
appointments. Roman Catholic Father Nguyen Van Ly, recipient of the
Hellman/Hammett award for persecuted writers, was among those released in this
month?s prisoner amnesty. At least three other Catholics "members of the
Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix" continue to serve twenty year prison
sentences imposed in 1987 for conducting training courses and distributing
religious books without government permission. They were convicted of security
offenses, including "conducting propaganda to oppose the socialist regime,"
"undermining the policy of unity," and "disruption of public security." The
group includes sixty-four-year-old Father Pham Minh Tri, who has been imprisoned
at Z30A prison in Dong Nai for the last eighteen years, despite suffering
dementia for most of the past decade.

Legal and Policy Developments

As the deadline for finalizing the CPC consultations approaches, in recent weeks
the Vietnamese government has issued public statements encouraging government
and Party officials to "consider and recognize eligible chapters" of Protestant
house church groups in ethnic minority areas as long as they meet the legal
requirements. In February, the Prime Minister issued Instruction No. 01/2005,
"Guiding Protestant Religious Organizations." It contains some positive
elements, such as its prohibition of attempts to force Protestants to deny their
religion. However, as with the November 2004 Ordinance on Beliefs and Religion,
the Instruction advances Vietnam's official stance that religious freedom is a
privilege to be requested and granted by the government, rather than a
fundamental human right.

Instruction No. 01/2005 requires religious organizations to obtain government
permission in order to operate, and in an ominous tone, it instructs officials
to "fight attempts by hostile forces to abuse Protestantism to incite people to
act subversively."

The 2004 Ordinance on Beliefs and Religions requires that all religious groups
be officially approved and subject to government control, and bans any religious
activity deemed to threaten national security, public order or national unity.
It gives weight to the government?s systematic campaign to ban peaceful
independent religious groups who practice their faith outside of
state-sanctioned institutions or whose governing boards are not approved and
controlled by the government.

In addition, Vietnam's Penal Code, as amended in 1999, criminalizes religious
activities that are deemed to threaten national security, public order, and
national unity. Many of these provisions trample fundamental rights and
Vietnam's own treaty commitments, for example, by making peaceful dissent or
unsanctioned religious acts a crime. Some are so vaguely worded that they invite
abusive application. Invoking "national security" or "national unity" allows the
state to assert comprehensive control over religious matters and to penalize,
arrest, and imprison disfavored religious leaders and followers at will. The
Penal Code has no exemption for peaceful dissent or expression that is not an
incitement to violent acts, jeopardizing those who merely exercise their
legitimate rights to freedom of opinion or expression.

Proposed Benchmarks

We propose that the following benchmarks be used in the State Department's
evaluation of Vietnam's progress in improving its respect for religious freedom.
Before lifting Vietnam's CPC status, the Department of State should establish
that the government of Vietnam has taken the following concrete steps:

1. Allow independent religious organizations to freely conduct religious
activities and govern themselves. Churches and denominations that do not choose
to join one of the officially-authorized religious organizations whose governing
boards are under the control of the government should be allowed to
independently register with the government.

2. Release or grant amnesty to all people imprisoned or detained because of
their non-violent religious beliefs and practices.

3. Investigate and punish those responsible for all instances of violence
against religious believers, including by civilians acting in concert with
government officials. Such incidents include the violent suppression of the
April 2004 protests by Montagnards in the Central Highlands, and reports of
torture, beatings, and killings of ethnic minority Protestants, including the
beating deaths of Hmong Christians Mua Bua Senh and Vang Seo Giao in 2002 and
2003 in Lai Chau and Ha Giang provinces, respectively.

4. Investigate reports of suppression of Protestants, including arbitrary
detention of Mennonites and evangelical Christians. Those responsible for these
violations should be brought to justice.

5. Investigate reports of torture and beatings, including beating deaths, of
ethnic minority Christians in both the northwestern provinces and the Central

Highlands, and bring those responsible to justice. Cease the repression of
ethnic minority Protestants, including bans on religious gatherings and other
meetings, pressure to renounce one's faith, mandatory participation in
non-Christian rituals, destruction of churches by local authorities and security
officials, and abusive police surveillance of religious leaders.

6. Ensure that all domestic legislation addressing religious affairs is brought
in conformity with international law, such as the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights. Amend provisions in domestic law that criminalizes
certain religious activities on the basis of imprecisely-defined "national
security" crimes.

7. Amend the 2004 Ordinance on Beliefs and Religion to include a provision that
prohibits forced renunciation ceremonies by government officials, linked to
specific disciplinary measures for offenders.

8. Permit outside experts, including those from the United Nations and
independent international human rights organizations, to have access to
religious followers in Vietnam, including members of denominations not
officially recognized by the government.

9. Invite the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, the U.N. Working
Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture to
visit Vietnam to investigate violations of religious freedom and other rights
abuses committed against members of churches that are not officially sanctioned
by the government.

We urge you to send a strong message to the Vietnamese government that the U.S.
will not tolerate Vietnam?s violations of the right to religious freedom. We
hope our concerns will be taken into account as the U.S. conducts its
consultations with Vietnam in regard to improving its record on upholding the
right to religious freedom.

Sincerely,

Brad Adams
Asia Director, Human Rights Watch
 
===
 

Rights group urges action on Vietnam

28 February 2005
Agence France Presse

NEW YORK, Feb 28 (AFP) - An international human rights group urged the US
government Monday to spell out specific actions that Vietnam should take to
improve its religious rights record.

Human Rights Watch conveyed its request in an open letter to Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice.

 

Leader of dissident Buddhist church calls for lifting of house arrest

24 February 2005
AFP via Yahoo! News

HANOI, Feb 24 (AFP) - The leader of Vietnam's main dissident Buddhist church has urged the communist government to lift a verbal order placing him under house arrest and to clarify his legal status, an exiled group said Thursday.

The Paris-based International Buddhist Information Bureau, the communications arm of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, published a letter sent by Thich Huyen Quang, 86, to major leaders including communist party secretary general Nong Duc Manh.

Quang said he and his deputy, Thich Quang Do, 76, are still under de facto house arrest.

"I... demand the government's accountability on the situation of Venerable Thich Quang Do and myself," Quang wrote.

"We were both placed under house arrest by verbal orders on 9th October 2003... and I have been held under detention since then."

Last week foreign ministry spokesman Le Dung said the two men were "still leading their own lives and practising religion freely" but their "sect (was) no longer in existence."

Earlier this month, in another open letter, Do had launched an appeal for democracy.

The information bureau said Do and other monks tried to visit Quang for the traditional new year early this month but police prevented them from traveling. The telephone has been cut at Do's pagoda since then, it said.

Vietnam has come in for repeated international criticism for its suppression of religious freedoms and constant harassment of political dissidents.

The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam has been banned since 1981 for refusing to submit to communist party supervision.

===

 
Rights groups urge action on Vietnam

1 March 2005
story.news.yahoo.com

NEW YORK, March 1 (AFP) - An international human rights group and a Vietnamese exile organisation urged the US government to maintainpressure on Vietnam to obtain an improvement of its religious rights
record.

US-based Human Rights Watch conveyed its request Monday in an open letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"Despite a few well-timed goodwill gestures, such as the recent release of several religious prisoners, Vietnam has in all other respects continued its exceptionally repressive policies," said Brad Adams, Asia Director of HRW.

"Vietnam is notorious for persecuting and imprisoning believers of religions who attempt to peacefully and independently practice their faith."

In September, the State Department designated Vietnam as a "country of particular concern" for its systematic and egregious abuse of religious freedom.

Consultations on religious freedom between Washington and Hanoi are slated to end on March 15, 2005. Washington would have by then to decide whether or not to impose sanctions on the communist country.
Tuesday, Paris-based International Buddhist Information Bureau (IBIB), representing the dissident Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), also asked the US to maintain pressure on the government in Hanoi.
Thich Tri Luc, a monk previously jailed by Vietnam before being released and allowed to leave the country last year, sent a petition to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) asking "not to remove Vietnam from the list of 'countries of particular concern' but to put them to test for a period of time".
The USCIRF currently advise the State department on its final decision. The Vietnamese government imposes strict controls over religious organizations and treats leaders of unauthorized religious groups with intense suspicion, branding many of them as subversives, according to HRW.
 

===


Human rights group urges U.S. to raise issues of religious freedom with Vietnam

Tuesday March 1, 2005
asia.news.yahoo.com

An international human rights group on Tuesday urged the United States to spell
out clearly what Vietnam needs to do to improve religious rights as a deadline approaches for the Bush administration to decide whether to keep Hanoi on its worst-offender list.

New York-based Human Rights Watch urged U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to "send a strong message" that Washington will not tolerate Vietnamese violations of religious freedom.

"Despite a few well-timed goodwill gestures, such as the recent release of several religious prisoners, Vietnam has in all other respects continued its exceptionally repressive policies," Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said Tuesday that "dialogue continues" on human rights between the United States and Vietnam.

"The U.S. should make sure that any pledges made during these consultations are backed up by prompt action on the part of Vietnamese authorities," Adams said. Vietnam was placed on the U.S. worst-offender list for religious rights last year _ a category called "countries of particular concern" that carries the possibility of sanctions, which could range from private rebuke to economic restrictions.

Ambassador John Hanford, the State Department's top official for religious freedom, was to arrive in Hanoi on Wednesday for several days of talks. Washington has until March 15 to decide whether to remove Vietnam from the category of "countries of particular concern." If Vietnam is not taken off the list, economic sanctions could be imposed.

Human Rights Watch said Washington should urge Hanoi to release all political and religious prisoners, allow religious organizations to govern themselves, and permit outside observers into the country.

Hanoi has taken a series of steps in recent months apparently aimed at reversing its status, including releasing dissidents and relaxing restrictions on public worship.

Last month, Vietnam released two of its most high-profile dissidents _ Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly and Dr. Nguyen Dan Que _ as part of a large-scale prisoner release for the Lunar New Year. Four other religious and political dissidents were also freed.

The government also announced last month that it would allow Protestant "house churches" to operate in the Central Highlands, where they had previously been banned, as long as they sever ties with an exile group that Hanoi links to a separatist movement.

Vietnam's treatment of the largely Protestant ethnic minorities in the region drew sharp criticism from the United States as well as the European Union following a crackdown last Easter during mass demonstrations by thousands of minority peoples protesting religious restrictions and land confiscation.

Vietnam was accused of trying to force the ethnic minorities to recant their faith, and of continuing to detain leaders of banned religious groups such as the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. Repression involving Roman Catholics, Mennonites and followers of local religions Hoa Hao and Cao Dai has also been documented.
 

===


Letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Religious Freedom in Vietnam

hrw.org/english/docs/2005/02/28/vietna10217.htm
February 28, 2005

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Rice:

We are writing to recommend specific benchmarks that the State Department can articulate in talks with the Government of Vietnam over that country's designation as a "Country of Particular Concern" under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.1 Reinforcing the U.S. government's concern with religious freedom is especially important now. Despite a few well-timed gestures earlier this month, such as the release of two prominent religious prisoners and a directive to stop forcing Protestants to recant their faith, Vietnam has in all other respects continued its exceptionally repressive policies, imprisoning and  persecuting believers of religions who attempt to peacefully and independently practice their faiths.

Since the U.S. granted normal trade relations status to Vietnam in 2001, Vietnam?s track record on respecting religious freedom and other fundamental human rights has continued to deteriorate. The Vietnamese government brands all unauthorized religious activities "particularly those that it fears may attract large followings" as potentially subversive. Targeted in particular are ethnic minority Protestants, Mennonites, and members of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV).

Persecution of Minority Christians
Despite the recent high-profile prisoner releases, the Vietnamese government continues to arrest and imprison ethnic minority Protestants in the northwestern provinces and Central Highlands. Human Rights Watch has documented the arbitrary arrest and torture of ethnic minority Protestants, as well as persistent reports of officials forcing minority villagers to abandon their religion and cease all political or religious activities in public self-criticism sessions or by signing written pledges.

Ethnic Hmong Christians in the northwest provinces have been beaten, detained, and pressured by local authorities to abandon their religion and cease religious gatherings. At least ten Hmong Christians remain in detention in Lai Chau and Ha Giang provinces. Human Rights Watch has received credible reports of the beating deaths in 2002 and 2003 of two Hmong Christians by authorities who were pressuring them to renounce their faith. The military presence in several villages in Lai Chau has increased recently, causing many Hmong Christians to flee from their homes.

In the Central Highlands, the government has increased its persecution of members of ethnic minorities (collectively known as Montagnards), particularly those thought to be following "Dega Protestantism." This is a form of evangelical Christianity, banned by the Vietnamese government, which links it to the Montagnard movement for return of ancestral lands, religious freedom, and self-rule. Since 2001, when thousands of Montagnards first joined widespread protests for land rights and religious freedom, the government has launched an official campaign to eradicate "Dega Protestantism."

The government's crackdown against "Dega Protestantism" which it charges is a political movement and not a religion - has impacted all Montagnard Christians, whether they are Dega supporters or not.

Since 2001 more than 180 Montagnard Christians - not only Dega church activists, but pastors, house church leaders, and Bible teachers as well - have been arrested and sentenced to prison terms of up to thirteen years. Many have been imprisoned on charges that they are violent separatists using their religion to "sow divisions among the people" and "undermine state and party unity." There is no evidence that the Dega church movement has ever advocated violence. By arresting and imprisoning people for their religious beliefs or peaceful expression of their views, Vietnam is in violation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a party.

Mennonites Jailed

Members of the Mennonite Church have also come under fire in recent years, in part because of the outspoken and at times confrontational style of Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang, the activist leader of the Mennonite Church in Vietnam. He has publicly criticized the arrests of religious and political dissidents, defended land rights cases of farmers from the provinces and used the Internet to call for religious freedom. Quang and three other Mennonites currently remain in prison on charges of resisting police officers after a scuffle broke out in March 2004 with undercover policemen who had been monitoring their Ho Chi Minh
City church. Mennonites in other parts of the country have also encountered difficulties. On two separate occasions during 2004, officials in Kontum province bulldozed a Mennonite chapel that doubled as the home and office of Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, superintendent of the Mennonite churches in the Central Highlands. In September and October 2004, police pressured Mennonites in Kontum and Gia Lai provinces to sign forms renouncing their religion.

Abuses against Buddhists

While one UBCV monk, Thich Thien Mien, was included in the recent Tet New Year prisoner amnesty, the government continues to persecute UBCV members and withhold any recognition of this group, once the largest organization of the majority religion in the country. In 2003, four UBCV monks were formally sentenced without trial to two years' administrative detention. Many other UBCV members remain confined without charges to their pagodas, which are under strict police surveillance. Their phone lines are cut or monitored and movement in and out of the pagodas is restricted. Members of the Hoa Hao sect of Buddhism have

also been subject to police surveillance and at least one Hoa Hao member, eighty-seven-year-old Ngo Quang Vinh, remains in prison. The sect was granted official status in May 1999, although government appointees dominate an eleven member Hoa Hao Buddhism Representative Committee established at that time.

Long-term Imprisonment of Catholics

While relations between Vietnam and the Vatican have improved in recent years, the government continues to restrict the number of Catholic parishes, require prospective seminarians to obtain government permission before entering theseminary, and maintain defacto veto power over Roman Catholic ordinations and appointments. Roman Catholic Father Nguyen Van Ly, recipient of the Hellman/Hammett award for persecuted writers, was among those released in this month?s prisoner amnesty. At least three other Catholics "members of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix" continue to serve twenty year prison sentences imposed in 1987 for conducting training courses and distributing religious books without government permission. They were convicted of security offenses, including "conducting propaganda to oppose the socialist regime," "undermining the policy of unity," and "disruption of public security." The group includes sixty-four-year-old Father Pham Minh Tri, who has been imprisoned at Z30A prison in Dong Nai for the last eighteen years, despite suffering dementia for most of the past decade.

Legal and Policy Developments

As the deadline for finalizing the CPC consultations approaches, in recent weeks the Vietnamese government has issued public statements encouraging government and Party officials to "consider and recognize eligible chapters" of Protestant house church groups in ethnic minority areas as long as they meet the legal requirements. In February, the Prime Minister issued Instruction No. 01/2005, "Guiding Protestant Religious Organizations." It contains some positive elements, such as its prohibition of attempts to force Protestants to deny their religion. However, as with the November 2004 Ordinance on Beliefs and Religion,the Instruction advances Vietnam's official stance that religious freedom is a privilege to be requested and granted by the government, rather than a fundamental human right.

Instruction No. 01/2005 requires religious organizations to obtain government permission in order to operate, and in an ominous tone, it instructs officials to "fight attempts by hostile forces to abuse Protestantism to incite people to act subversively."

The 2004 Ordinance on Beliefs and Religions requires that all religious groups be officially approved and subject to government control, and bans any religious activity deemed to threaten national security, public order or national unity. It gives weight to the government?s systematic campaign to ban peaceful independent religious groups who practice their faith outside of state-sanctioned institutions or whose governing boards are not approved and controlled by the government.

In addition, Vietnam's Penal Code, as amended in 1999, criminalizes religious activities that are deemed to threaten national security, public order, and national unity. Many of these provisions trample fundamental rights and Vietnam's own treaty commitments, for example, by making peaceful dissent or unsanctioned religious acts a crime. Some are so vaguely worded that they invite abusive application. Invoking "national security" or "national unity" allows the state to assert comprehensive control over religious matters and to penalize, arrest, and imprison disfavored religious leaders and followers at will. The Penal Code has no exemption for peaceful dissent or expression that is not an incitement to violent acts, jeopardizing those who merely exercise their legitimate rights to freedom of opinion or expression.

Proposed Benchmarks

We propose that the following benchmarks be used in the State Department's evaluation of Vietnam's progress in improving its respect for religious freedom. Before lifting Vietnam's CPC status, the Department of State should establish that the government of Vietnam has taken the following concrete steps:

1. Allow independent religious organizations to freely conduct religious activities and govern themselves. Churches and denominations that do not choose to join one of the officially-authorized religious organizations whose governing boards are under the control of the government should be allowed to independently register with the government.

2. Release or grant amnesty to all people imprisoned or detained because of their non-violent religious beliefs and practices.

3. Investigate and punish those responsible for all instances of violence against religious believers, including by civilians acting in concert with government officials. Such incidents include the violent suppression of the
April 2004 protests by Montagnards in the Central Highlands, and reports of torture, beatings, and killings of ethnic minority Protestants, including the beating deaths of Hmong Christians Mua Bua Senh and Vang Seo Giao in 2002 and 2003 in Lai Chau and Ha Giang provinces, respectively.

4. Investigate reports of suppression of Protestants, including arbitrary detention of Mennonites and evangelical Christians. Those responsible for these violations should be brought to justice.

5. Investigate reports of torture and beatings, including beating deaths, of ethnic minority Christians in both the northwestern provinces and the Central Highlands, and bring those responsible to justice. Cease the repression of ethnic minority Protestants, including bans on religious gatherings and other meetings, pressure to renounce one's faith, mandatory participation in non-Christian rituals, destruction of churches by local authorities and security officials, and abusive police surveillance of religious leaders.

6. Ensure that all domestic legislation addressing religious affairs is brought in conformity with international law, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amend provisions in domestic law that criminalizes certain religious activities on the basis of imprecisely-defined "national security" crimes.

7. Amend the 2004 Ordinance on Beliefs and Religion to include a provision that prohibits forced renunciation ceremonies by government officials, linked to specific disciplinary measures for offenders.

8. Permit outside experts, including those from the United Nations and independent international human rights organizations, to have access to religious followers in Vietnam, including members of denominations not officially recognized by the government.

9. Invite the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit Vietnam to investigate violations of religious freedom and other rights abuses committed against members of churches that are not officially sanctioned by the government.

We urge you to send a strong message to the Vietnamese government that the U.S. will not tolerate Vietnam?s violations of the right to religious freedom. We hope our concerns will be taken into account as the U.S. conducts its consultations with Vietnam in regard to improving its record on upholding the right to religious freedom.

Sincerely,

Brad Adams
Asia Director, Human Rights Watch
 
===
 

Rights group urges action on Vietnam

28 February 2005
Agence France Presse

NEW YORK, Feb 28 (AFP) - An international human rights group urged the US government Monday to spell out specific actions that Vietnam should take to improve its religious rights record.

Human Rights Watch conveyed its request in an open letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
 
The United States is currently engaged in talks with Vietnam over its designation as one of the worst violators of religious rights in the world.

In September, the State Department designated Vietnam as a "country of particular concern" for its systematic and egregious abuse of religious freedom under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.

Consultations on religious freedom between Washington and Hanoi are slated to end on March 15, 2005, according to the human rights group.

"Despite a few well-timed goodwill gestures, such as the recent release of several religious prisoners, Vietnam has in all other respects continued its exceptionally repressive policies," said Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch. "Vietnam is notorious for persecuting and imprisoning believers of religions who attempt to peacefully and independently practice their faith."

The Vietnamese government imposes strict controls over religious organizations and treats leaders of unauthorized religious groups with intense suspicion, branding many of them as subversives, according to Human Rights Watch.

Targeted in particular are ethnic minority Christians, Mennonites, and members of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam.
 

===
 
 
US seeks dismissal of lawsuit over use of Agent Orange in Vietnam

1 March 2005
Xinhua News Agency

NEW YORK, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The US Justice Department has sought to dismiss a lawsuit by Vietnamese who say they were poisoned by the chemical defoliant Agent Orange used by US forces in the Vietnam War,
The New York Times reported Monday.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of millions of Vietnamese, accuses US chemical makers of committing crimes against humanity by supplying to US forces Agent Orange, which contains dioxin and is extremely toxic.
However, the US government, which is not among the accused in the suit to be presided over by US District Judge Jack Weinstein, has contended the claimed effects of Agent Orange are not supported by direct
evidence.

State Department lawyers sent a note to Weinstein last month, saying that if the case were not thrown out, the "implications of plaintiffs' claims are astounding as they would (if accepted) open the courthouse
doors of the American legal system for former enemy nationals and soldiers claiming to have been harmed by the US Armed Forces" during wars.

US forces sprayed Agent Orange to clear jungles and destroy crops during the 1954-1975 Vietnam war. More than 80 million liters of the defoliant were used.

Some 10,000 US veterans receive medical disability benefits related to Agent Orange, which scientists blamed for cancer, diabetes, birth defects and other problems among the veterans and Vietnamese civilians.

In 1984, seven US chemical companies paid 180 million dollars to keep a veterans' class action suit out of court.


===

 
US asks judge to throw out lawsuit over use of Agent Orange in Vietnam

Mon Feb 28, 2005
news.yahoo.com

NEW YORK (AFP) - The US Justice Department has asked a federal judge in Brooklyn to throw out a lawsuit aimed at revisiting the use of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange in the Vietnam War, according to a US newspaper report.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of millions of Vietnamese, accuses US chemical makers of committing crimes against humanity by producing the agent which contains dioxin, which is highly toxic, The New York Times reported. The government is not among the accused in the suit which will be presided over by Jack Weinstein.

State Department lawyers sent a note last month to the judge saying that if the case were not thrown out "the implications of plaintiffs' claims are astounding ... as they would (if accepted) open the courthouse doors of the American legal system for former enemy nationals and soldiers claiming to have been harmed by
the United States Armed Forces" during war.

The defoliant was used during the 1954-1975 Vietnam war to deprive the US enemy of jungle cover.

In 1984 seven US chemical companies paid 180 million dollars to keep a veterans' class action suit out of court.

===


Chemical companies seek end to Agent Orange litigation

February 28, 2005
Associated Press
www.newsday.com

NEW YORK -- Chemical companies that supplied Agent Orange to U.S. forces in Vietnam asked a federal judge in Brooklyn on Monday to dismiss a lawsuit by Vietnamese citizens who say they were poisoned by the defoliant.

The plaintiffs allege that Monsanto, Dow Chemical and more than a dozen other firms violated international laws barring the use of poison and chemical weapons by producing Agent Orange, which caused tumors, birth defects and other serious health problems. They are seeking potentially billions of dollars in damages.

Lawyers for the companies argued Monday that U.S. courts had no power to penalize the corporations for executing the orders of an American president exercising his powers as commander-in-chief. They also said that international law generally exempted corporations, as opposed to individuals, from criminal and civil liability for alleged war crimes.

U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein seemed skeptical of the argument that corporations should enjoy such a broad exemption under international law. He also questioned whether presidential orders exempted the firms, drawing several parallels to the actions of Nazis and German corporations during World War II.

"The fact that all power was centralized under Hitler did not permit all people operating under his orders to violate international law," Weinstein said.

But Weinstein also indicated skepticism about the plaintiffs' claims that the use of Agent Orange violated laws in place during the Vietnam War, saying it was far from clear that long-standing agreements barring weapons such as poison gas applied to the case.

The civil suit is the first attempt by Vietnamese plaintiffs to seek legal redress as victims of Agent Orange, which was used by U.S. forces in Vietnam to clear jungles and swamps and destroy crops used by communist forces. More than 21 million gallons of the chemical, containing the deadly component dioxin, were sprayed by U.S. aircraft from 1962 to 1971.

Some 10,000 U.S. war veterans already receive medical disability benefits related to Agent Orange, which scientists have blamed for an array of latent effects _ including cancer, diabetes and birth defects _ among those veterans and Vietnam's civilian populace.

Vietnam has claimed that up to a million people were affected by Agent Orange and other chemicals and that wide areas of land and waters were poisoned. A study last year showed high levels of dioxin persist in food samples.

The Vietnamese government has said the United States has a moral responsibility to heal war damage but has never sought compensation for victims. The U.S. government has contended the claimed effects of Agent Orange are not supported by direct evidence.

The Justice Department also has asked Weinstein to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that opening the U.S. courts to former wartime enemies could threaten presidential power to wage war.
 

===
 

Cisco Systems Charts Strategy for Intelligent Information Networks in Vietnam

2005-02-24
i-newswire.com

Appoints New General Director for Country Operations

i-Newswire, 2005-02-24 - Cisco Systems(r) has outlined its strategy to help customers in Vietnam build Intelligent Information Networks. The Intelligent Information Network is Cisco's vision and strategy for the network's evolution from basic connectivity products to unified network systems that will serve as the foundation for a complete business architecture.

The company also announced the appointment of Mr. James Chia as general director for its Vietnam operations, reaffirming its commitment to its customers in the country. Reporting to Mr. Vorkon Patra-Yanan, regional managing director for Indochina, Mr. Chia will be managing Cisco's business operations in the country.

Cisco's operation in Vietnam has grown significantly in the recent years, and Cisco is continuing to allocate more resources in terms of personnel and support in the country.

"Vietnam is a very important country for Cisco and we want to reinforce our long-term commitment to helping increase national wealth through the use of Internet business solutions and Internet Protocol ( IP )-based networking," said Mr. Patra-Yanan. "Cisco's open, end-to-end IP infrastructure provides a foundation for a range of productivity-enhancing applications, simplifies application development, and enhances the ability for companies to collaborate with partners, suppliers, and customers."

An Intelligent Information Network gives customers the foundation to eliminate the "physical boundaries" of the traditional wired world and provide end-users with a transparent experience across applications, services, processes and the infrastructure. Cisco's customers in the country such as Vietnam Datacommunication Company ( VDC ), a subsidiary of Vietnam Post & Telecom ( VNPT ), have made significant progress toward this Intelligent Information Network. VDC is building an advanced network that will enable it to roll out a full range of services, including IP/Multiprotocol Label Switching ( MPLS ) virtual private networks ( VPNs ), business-class broadband, and IP telephony to its corporate customers.

In addition to helping its customers build out the Intelligent Information Network, Cisco is also helping in the development of IP networking skills amongst the next generation of Vietnamese workers through the Cisco Networking Academy(r) Program. In partnership with educational institutions, the academy program curriculum uses technologies associated with networking and the Internet to impart skills for how to plan, build and deploy those same networks to students. There are currently 14 universities in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Dalat and Hue, running the Networking Academy program with 1,000 participating students. More than 1,300 graduates have graduated from the program in Vietnam.

The new general director for Cisco in Vietnam, Mr. James Chia has the necessary experience to help organisations take advantage of IP networking technologies. Mr. Chia has been with Cisco for over six years serving in a variety of leadership positions including managing director for Singapore. His previous appointment in Cisco was in leading the advanced technologies initiative in South Asia. Cisco's advanced technologies represent the future of the company and include IP telephony, security, wireless LAN, storage networking, optical and home networking.

"I am pleased that James has accepted the job of leading our operations in Vietnam. He is a proven natural leader with an excellent customer-focused attitude. He was managing director of Cisco's Singapore operations in the very challenging economic situation in 2002 and proved his abilities to lead his team
under great pressure. He did that by staying faithful to Cisco's primary objective of helping our customers lower operational costs and increase productivity through innovative Internet business solutions," said Mr.
Patra-Yanan.

Mr. Chia joined Cisco in December 1998 from IBM. In his 7 years as a client manager for the Banking, Finance and Securities Industry at IBM, Mr. Chia's successful track record was recognised through consecutive awards of the Personal Achievement and Manager's Award as well as the Managing Director's and Golden Circle Award.

About Cisco Systems
Cisco Systems, Inc. ( NASDAQ: CSCO ) is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Information about Cisco can be found at www.cisco.com. For ongoing
 
news, please go to newsroom.cisco.com. Asia Pacific news and information are
available at www.cisco.com/asiapac/news.

===
 

 



The United States is currently engaged in talks with Vietnam over its
designation as one of the worst violators of religious rights in the world.

In September, the State Department designated Vietnam as a "country of
particular concern" for its systematic and egregious abuse of religious freedom
under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.

Consultations on religious freedom between Washington and Hanoi are slated to
end on March 15, 2005, according to the human rights group.

"Despite a few well-timed goodwill gestures, such as the recent release of
several religious prisoners, Vietnam has in all other respects continued its
exceptionally repressive policies," said Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human
Rights Watch. "Vietnam is notorious for persecuting and imprisoning believers
of religions who attempt to peacefully and independently practice their faith."

The Vietnamese government imposes strict controls over religious organizations
and treats leaders of unauthorized religious groups with intense suspicion,
branding many of them as subversives, according to Human Rights Watch.

Targeted in particular are ethnic minority Christians, Mennonites, and members
of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam.
 


===
 
 
US seeks dismissal of lawsuit over use of Agent Orange in Vietnam

1 March 2005
Xinhua News Agency

NEW YORK, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The US Justice Department has sought to
dismiss a lawsuit by Vietnamese who say they were poisoned by the
chemical defoliant Agent Orange used by US forces in the Vietnam War,
The New York Times reported Monday.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of millions of Vietnamese, accuses US
chemical makers of committing crimes against humanity by supplying to
US forces Agent Orange, which contains dioxin and is extremely toxic.
However, the US government, which is not among the accused in the suit
to be presided over by US District Judge Jack Weinstein, has contended
the claimed effects of Agent Orange are not supported by direct
evidence.

State Department lawyers sent a note to Weinstein last month, saying
that if the case were not thrown out, the "implications of plaintiffs'
claims are astounding as they would (if accepted) open the courthouse
doors of the American legal system for former enemy nationals and
soldiers claiming to have been harmed by the US Armed Forces" during
wars.

US forces sprayed Agent Orange to clear jungles and destroy crops
during the 1954-1975 Vietnam war. More than 80 million liters of the
defoliant were used.

Some 10,000 US veterans receive medical disability benefits related to
Agent Orange, which scientists blamed for cancer, diabetes, birth
defects and other problems among the veterans and Vietnamese
civilians.

In 1984, seven US chemical companies paid 180 million dollars to keep
a veterans' class action suit out of court.


===

 
US asks judge to throw out lawsuit over use of Agent Orange in Vietnam

Mon Feb 28, 2005
news.yahoo.com

NEW YORK (AFP) - The US Justice Department has asked a federal judge in Brooklyn
to throw out a lawsuit aimed at revisiting the use of the chemical defoliant
Agent Orange in the Vietnam War, according to a US newspaper report.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of millions of Vietnamese, accuses US chemical
makers of committing crimes against humanity by producing the agent which
contains dioxin, which is highly toxic, The New York Times reported.
The government is not among the accused in the suit which will be presided over
by Jack Weinstein.

State Department lawyers sent a note last month to the judge saying that if the
case were not thrown out "the implications of plaintiffs' claims are astounding
... as they would (if accepted) open the courthouse doors of the American legal
system for former enemy nationals and soldiers claiming to have been harmed by
the United States Armed Forces" during war.

The defoliant was used during the 1954-1975 Vietnam war to deprive the US enemy
of jungle cover.

In 1984 seven US chemical companies paid 180 million dollars to keep a veterans'
class action suit out of court.

===


Chemical companies seek end to Agent Orange litigation

February 28, 2005
Associated Press
www.newsday.com

NEW YORK -- Chemical companies that supplied Agent Orange to U.S. forces in
Vietnam asked a federal judge in Brooklyn on Monday to dismiss a lawsuit by
Vietnamese citizens who say they were poisoned by the defoliant.

The plaintiffs allege that Monsanto, Dow Chemical and more than a dozen other
firms violated international laws barring the use of poison and chemical
weapons by producing Agent Orange, which caused tumors, birth defects and other
serious health problems. They are seeking potentially billions of dollars in
damages.

Lawyers for the companies argued Monday that U.S. courts had no power to
penalize the corporations for executing the orders of an American president
exercising his powers as commander-in-chief. They also said that international
law generally exempted corporations, as opposed to individuals, from criminal
and civil liability for alleged war crimes.

U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein seemed skeptical of the argument that
corporations should enjoy such a broad exemption under international law. He
also questioned whether presidential orders exempted the firms, drawing several
parallels to the actions of Nazis and German corporations during World War II.

"The fact that all power was centralized under Hitler did not permit all people
operating under his orders to violate international law," Weinstein said.

But Weinstein also indicated skepticism about the plaintiffs' claims that the
use of Agent Orange violated laws in place during the Vietnam War, saying it
was far from clear that long-standing agreements barring weapons such as poison
gas applied to the case.

The civil suit is the first attempt by Vietnamese plaintiffs to seek legal
redress as victims of Agent Orange, which was used by U.S. forces in Vietnam to
clear jungles and swamps and destroy crops used by communist forces. More than
21 million gallons of the chemical, containing the deadly component dioxin,
were sprayed by U.S. aircraft from 1962 to 1971.

Some 10,000 U.S. war veterans already receive medical disability benefits
related to Agent Orange, which scientists have blamed for an array of latent
effects _ including cancer, diabetes and birth defects _ among those veterans
and Vietnam's civilian populace.

Vietnam has claimed that up to a million people were affected by Agent Orange
and other chemicals and that wide areas of land and waters were poisoned. A
study last year showed high levels of dioxin persist in food samples.

The Vietnamese government has said the United States has a moral responsibility
to heal war damage but has never sought compensation for victims. The U.S.
government has contended the claimed effects of Agent Orange are not supported
by direct evidence.

The Justice Department also has asked Weinstein to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing
that opening the U.S. courts to former wartime enemies could threaten
presidential power to wage war.
 

===
 

Cisco Systems Charts Strategy for Intelligent Information Networks in Vietnam

2005-02-24
i-newswire.com

Appoints New General Director for Country Operations

i-Newswire, 2005-02-24 - Cisco Systems(r) has outlined its strategy to help
customers in Vietnam build Intelligent Information Networks. The Intelligent
Information Network is Cisco's vision and strategy for the network's evolution
from basic connectivity products to unified network systems that will serve as
the foundation for a complete business architecture.

The company also announced the appointment of Mr. James Chia as general director
for its Vietnam operations, reaffirming its commitment to its customers in the
country. Reporting to Mr. Vorkon Patra-Yanan, regional managing director for
Indochina, Mr. Chia will be managing Cisco's business operations in the country.

Cisco's operation in Vietnam has grown significantly in the recent years, and
Cisco is continuing to allocate more resources in terms of personnel and support
in the country.

"Vietnam is a very important country for Cisco and we want to reinforce our
long-term commitment to helping increase national wealth through the use of
Internet business solutions and Internet Protocol ( IP )-based networking," said
Mr. Patra-Yanan. "Cisco's open, end-to-end IP infrastructure provides a
foundation for a range of productivity-enhancing applications, simplifies
application development, and enhances the ability for companies to collaborate
with partners, suppliers, and customers."

An Intelligent Information Network gives customers the foundation to eliminate
the "physical boundaries" of the traditional wired world and provide end-users
with a transparent experience across applications, services, processes and the
infrastructure. Cisco's customers in the country such as Vietnam
Datacommunication Company ( VDC ), a subsidiary of Vietnam Post & Telecom ( VNPT
), have made significant progress toward this Intelligent Information Network.
VDC is building an advanced network that will enable it to roll out a full range
of services, including IP/Multiprotocol Label Switching ( MPLS ) virtual private
networks ( VPNs ), business-class broadband, and IP telephony to its corporate
customers.

In addition to helping its customers build out the Intelligent Information
Network, Cisco is also helping in the development of IP networking skills
amongst the next generation of Vietnamese workers through the Cisco Networking
Academy(r) Program. In partnership with educational institutions, the academy
program curriculum uses technologies associated with networking and the Internet
to impart skills for how to plan, build and deploy those same networks to
students. There are currently 14 universities in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Dalat
and Hue, running the Networking Academy program with 1,000 participating
students. More than 1,300 graduates have graduated from the program in Vietnam.

The new general director for Cisco in Vietnam, Mr. James Chia has the necessary
experience to help organisations take advantage of IP networking technologies.
Mr. Chia has been with Cisco for over six years serving in a variety of
leadership positions including managing director for Singapore. His previous
appointment in Cisco was in leading the advanced technologies initiative in
South Asia. Cisco's advanced technologies represent the future of the company
and include IP telephony, security, wireless LAN, storage networking, optical
and home networking.

"I am pleased that James has accepted the job of leading our operations in
Vietnam. He is a proven natural leader with an excellent customer-focused
attitude. He was managing director of Cisco's Singapore operations in the very
challenging economic situation in 2002 and proved his abilities to lead his team
under great pressure. He did that by staying faithful to Cisco's primary
objective of helping our customers lower operational costs and increase
productivity through innovative Internet business solutions," said Mr.
Patra-Yanan.

Mr. Chia joined Cisco in December 1998 from IBM. In his 7 years as a client
manager for the Banking, Finance and Securities Industry at IBM, Mr. Chia's
successful track record was recognised through consecutive awards of the
Personal Achievement and Manager's Award as well as the Managing Director's and
Golden Circle Award.

About Cisco Systems
Cisco Systems, Inc. ( NASDAQ: CSCO ) is the worldwide leader in networking for
the Internet. Information about Cisco can be found at www.cisco.com. For ongoing

news, please go to newsroom.cisco.com. Asia Pacific news and information are
available at www.cisco.com/asiapac/news.

===