More than 100 American and European dignitaries nominated UBCV’s Thich Quang Do for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. One of the people who nominated the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is European Parliament’s Ramon Tremosa I Balcells. The following is Mr. Balcells’ interview with Radio Free Asia’s Vietnamese service.
RFA: Would you tell us the reason you and your colleague in the European Parliament gathered signatures to nominate the Supreme Patriarch Thich Quang Do for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize?
Ramon Tremosa I Balcells: First, thank you for inviting me to share with RFA, who is an important voice and aid for peaceful dissidents, and who is the voice of freedom and democracy in Asia and in Vietnam, specifically.
I hope that, with my opinion I can contribute to the hope of the dissidents, oppressed citizens, and human rights activists who are sacrificing for Vietnam’s democracy.
I am Catalanian, an ethnic minority in Spain who were discriminated hundreds of years ago, and continue to struggle for freedom and democracy. Catalanian peacefully demand respects for basic rights and persisted through darkest eras in history such as the civil war under fascist Franco only 40 years ago. That’s why I sympathize and share the fears and tragedies that people have been harassed and oppressed by their governments.
I know well that the Communist Vietnamese regime oppresses all peaceful critics, along with lawyers and human rights activists. Vietnam restricts internet freedom, cracks down on protests, control religions and oppresses “unrecognized” religious communities such as the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam.
I will continue to use my means in Parliament to call for attention from the European Parliament on the violations above.
Therefore, I decided to support the Patriarch Thich Quang Do for a nominee of the Nobel Peace Prize as the Most Venerable is the most well-known Vietnamese dissident.
The Most Venerable has been imprisoned for 30 years, for peacefully calling for religious freedom, democracy and human rights. Currently, the Most Venerable is being house arrested at Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon. The Most Venerable is the Supreme leader of the UBCV, the largest religion in Vietnam that is banned by the government after the latter installed the government’s Buddhist Church in 1981.
However, the Most Venerable’s struggle is for the entire Vietnamese people. The Nobel Peace Prize will bring hope to all who are struggling for freedom and democracy.
RFA: Vietnam and the European Union have negotiated on the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement that will be signed this year. In January, there was a Human Rights dialog in Hanoi. However, Vietnam maintains a one-party authoritarian regime where all freedoms have been rejected. In your roll as Representative of the European Parliament, what can you do to push for human rights in Vietnam’s current situation?
Ramon Tremosa I Balcells: Through the resolutions, the European Parliament never ceases to call for the end of violations against human rights and to open the progress of democracy improvement in Vietnam. I myself will continue to closely watch these issues.
I use all means reserved to Representatives to shine into incidents happened in Vietnam in order to create pressure onto the government. I have regularly publicly denounced human rights violations in Vietnam and called on the European Union to stop trading with Vietnam if there is no change.
Recently, when a delegation of senior Vietnamese representatives and heads of ministries visited the European Parliament, I raised my concerns, that all economic and investment privileges that the European Union brought to Vietnam fell into the hands of the Communist Party of Vietnam first, as the Party control the entire economy whereas the majority of people live in poverty amidst social inequality.
Every time there was a change, I reminded the European Union, that despite restrictions with principles on human rights and democracy, as Regulation article #1 in the EU – Vietnam Cooperation signed in 1995, Vietnam still systematically clamps down on all peaceful critics, suppress all political and religious dissidents, which is all forms of freedom of speech.
I regularly question where specific steps are that the European Union take, along with new approaches in the future to end human rights violations? Has the European Union taken strong measures against the Vietnamese government within the boundaries of the Agreement? What actions that the EU Delegation office in Vietnam has taken?
I will continue to pay attention and denounce all forms of violations. That is the minimum that we can do at the European Parliament to bring hopes to the peaceful dissidents in Vietnam and to anyone struggling for a genuine democracy in order to advance Vietnam, people like Mr. Vo Van Ai are esteemed and brave leaders. We support them in the struggle in which victories obviously have to arise, I can guarantee that.