July 17, 2006

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State of the United States of America
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madam:

We, the undersigned, are the citizens of Vietnam who, on April 8, 2006, have proclaimed the Manifesto 2006 which calls for democracy and freedom in Vietnam. We call ourselves Group 8406. According to the information that we received from Vietnam’s Ministry of External Affairs and the U.S. Department of States, we understand that you’ll be visiting Vietnam by the end of this month. We will be happy to welcome you here and we wish you a successful visit.

Madam Secretary:

Martin Luther King Jr., one of the finest Americans for whom Vietnamese have had deep respect over the last half-century, said in his famous speech of August 23, 1968 I have a dream:
“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Today, while Mr. King’s dream all men are created equal has become a reality in your country, to the overwhelming majority of Vietnamese, it remains only a dream. Our goals — Independence, Freedom, and Happiness — were supposed to have been opened to us on September 2, 1945, but they were cheatingly and blatantly changed to a “socialist revolution” by successive generations of the Vietnamese Communist Party’s leaders over the last 61 years.

It was this cheating – and nothing else — which has, up to the present time, denied our people the opportunities to develop and build our country. Because of this cheating, all our fundamental rights have been trampled upon, and our right of self-determination has also been destroyed. As a consequence, Vietnam is now one of the most inequitable, corrupt, poor, dishonest, and backward countries in the world. Vietnam’s one-party, uncompetitive political system has been incapable of resolving the above fundamental problems of our country.

For the above reasons, we now also have a dream which is rooted in the soul of the Vietnamese people over so many centuries. It is a dream to be able to fight abuses of power, corruption, poverty, dishonesty, backwardness, and to build a new country that will integrate well into the world of the present time. The way to achieving this dream is through democracy, freedom, and a plural, multi-party political system. We have no other way.

With our spirit of self-reliance and self-strengthening, we are determined to make our dream a reality in the near future, with the enthusiastic and ever-more effective help of the progressive world, as well as that of the U.S. State Department, and your own support which, we earnestly hope, you will be kind enough to provide.

On this occasion, we would like to convey to you our appreciation for the U.S. State Department’s annual assessment of the human rights situation in Vietnam, and the inclusion of Vietnam – over many years – in the list of “Countries of Particular Concern”. These actions have been, and will continue to be, of great help to our struggle for democracy and freedom.

Yours sincerely,

Interim representatives of Group 8406, 1,735 democracy and freedom advocates, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese citizens

Do Nam Hai, engineer, Saigon
Tran Anh Kim, former army officer, Thai Binh
Nguyen Van Ly, Catholic priest, Hue

Reprinted with permission of John E. Carey. John Carey is former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.


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