Asia Centre, a neutral and independent think-tank, participated in the “International Youth Conference, Vietnam: Pathway to Humanity”, held in Sydney, Australia from 7 to 10 September 2017. The Centre’s Programme Coordinator Michelle D’cruz exchanged views and ideas with diaspora communities on how they can bolster human rights activism and advocacy efforts within Vietnam.
The conference discussions identified and unpacked three critical issues impacting the rights movement in Vietnam: challenges to FoRB, deaths in police custody, as well as the overarching issues of shrinking civil society space and the climate of fear this engenders for activists within Vietnam and their overseas counterparts.
This inaugural youth conference attracted some 200 participants from the overseas Vietnamese community established across Australia, the US and Canada as well as noted international rights advocates and organizations.
It inspired youth within the Vietnamese community to share best practices on the advancement of human rights in Vietnam, in light of their past experiences and challenges faced by their communities. Faith was an important connecting factor among participants, with many coming from church groups.
Asia Centre’s Human Rights Programme examines freedom of religion and belief across Southeast Asia. It has produced regional country studies soon to be released by the Norwegian Helsiniki Committee. The Sydney youth conference provided an opportunity to engage with stakeholders from Vietnam who provided first hand knowledge of the role that diaspora communities play in supporting, funding and advocating for human rights issues in their countries of origin.
Asia Centre will continue its engagement on FoRB through its evidence based research on this and other critical issues in the region for the benefit of civil society and other stakeholders.