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Smith, Vietnam Human Rights Advocates Hold Press Conf

Obama Abandons Human Rights and Democracy Advocates in Vietnam

Washington, May 24, 2016 | Jeff Sagnip ((202) 225-3765)

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) made the following remarks at a bipartisan press conference he held on the steps of the Capitol today with other House members and Vietnamese rights advocates:

President Obama gave up one of the few remaining leverage points that the United States has in exchange for vague promises of expanded port use by the U.S. Navy. This was an epic failure of diplomacy. It was shortsighted, misguided, and failed to advance long-term U.S. interests.

Vietnam needs the U.S. markets and security commitments much more than the U.S. needs Vietnam’s markets and security cooperation.

Vietnam would have offered the U.S. Navy port access without condition, given China’s advances in the South China Sea. Thus, the President got nothing for lifting the arms embargo and nothing for including Vietnam in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

However, the American people get to continue subsidizing the repression of democracy advocates and religious groups. That is the definition of a bad deal.

Over 100 prisoners of conscience remain detained, including human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai. I met with Nguyen Van Dai in 2005 and his courageous wife Vu Minh Khanh testified at a subcommittee hearing two weeks ago.

I also met Fr. Nguyen Van Ly on trip to Vietnam in 2005. His release, only a couple months prior to his sentence ending, should not be considered a human rights breakthrough. Fr. Ly went into prison healthy and vigorous, but emerged sickly and broken.

Before his trip, Members of Congress urged the President to condition further expansion of trade benefits and security partnerships on significant, verifiable, and irreversible improvements in human rights in Vietnam.

We argued repeatedly that failure to condition Vietnam’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2007 lead to the a massive crackdown on dissidents, labor activists, and religious leaders and introduced sweeping new laws restricting freedom of association, assembly and the Internet.

In short, Vietnam’s WTO membership allowed the Communist government free license to jail, torture and abuse.

Why would we expect Vietnam to act differently now?

The President’s visits to Cuba and Vietnam share the same sad pattern. He is more interested in photo-ops with dictators than standing up for persecuted individuals who share our values of freedom and human rights.

He touts the benefits of engagement, but offers economic and security benefits without conditions, giving dictators unwarranted legitimacy.

This is not smart diplomacy, it is surrender of U.S. interests and values. Sadly, the President’s legacy will be the propping up of a Communist old guard when he should be standing with the new generation of freedom advocates seeking our rights and freedoms more than our trade.

That is why I’m making a push again to pass the Vietnam Human Rights Act. This bill passed four times in the House, only to be stalled in the Senate.

The bipartisan Vietnam Human Rights Act will restore the right priorities to U.S. policy toward Vietnam and will limit U.S. non-humanitarian assistance that goes to Vietnam until there are concrete human rights protection.

Vietnam should also be designated as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for religious freedom violations. This designation carries with it potential sanctions and visa denials for Vietnamese government officials complicit in religious freedom abuses.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that Vietnam be given this dubious distinction it its newly released Annual Report. That report provides compelling evidence of egregious and ongoing religious freedom violations in Vietnam.

The President should follow USCIRF’s recommendation and immediately designate Vietnam as a CPC.

The Communist Party is not Vietnam’s future, that future lies with Nguyen Van Dai and the many other advocates of political reform and human rights who seek our freedoms more than our trade.

U.S. policy must send the unmistakable message to the Government of Vietnam that human rights improvements are fundamental to better relations, critically linked to our mutual economic and security interests, and will not be ignored or bargained away.

The President failed to send this message. It is up to the Congress, and the next Administration, to restore the right priorities to U.S.-Vietnam relations.



Họp Báo Tại Quốc Hội Hoa Kỳ về Chuyến Công Du Việt Nam của TT Obama

Thông Cáo Báo Chí

BPSOS – Ngày 23 tháng 5, 2016

Liên lạc: Elise Phuong Ho: elisephuong.ho@bpsos.org

Thời gian: 3pm ngày 24 tháng 5, 2016

Địa điểm: House Triangle, Quốc Hội Hoa Kỳ

Washington, DC – Một buổi họp báo sẽ được đồng tổ chức bởi Dân Biểu Christopher Smith và BPSOS tại Quốc Hội Hoa Kỳ vào lúc 3 giờ chiều ngày Thứ Ba 24 tháng 5 tại khuôn viên House Triangle của Toà Nhà Quốc Hội (Capitol). Sẽ có sự tham gia của nhiều vị dân biểu và đại diện của các tổ chức nhân quyền.

Mục đích của buổi họp báo khẩn cấp này là để lên tiếng đối với quyết định của Tổng Thống Obama về dỡ bỏ hoàn toàn lệnh cấm vận vũ khí sát thương đối với Việt Nam trong khi tình trạng vi phạm nhân quyền ở quốc gia này vẫn tiếp tục nghiêm trọng.

***

New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District

Chairman of the House Global Human Rights Subcommittee, Chairman of Congressional-Executive China Commission, Senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jeff Sagnip (202) 225-3765

May 23, 2016                                                        http://chrissmith.house.gov

Press Conf. Set for Tues., May 24 @ 3 p.m.

Human Rights Leaders to Speak Out on Abuses in Vietnam, President’s Visit

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Human rights and congressional leaders advocating for victims of widespread abuses, religious persecution and political repression at the hands of the Vietnamese Government will gather for a press conference Tuesday in response to President Obama visiting Vietnam. The press conference participants will call for an end to Vietnam’s instruments of repression and the release of all prisoners of conscience.

Who:

  • Chairman Chris Smith, (NJ-04) Senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chair of its subcommittee on global human rights, other invited House Members;
  • Nguyen Dinh Thang, Ph.D., Executive Director, Boat People SOS

What: Press conference on human rights issues and President Obama’s trip to Vietnam

When:    Tues., May 24, 2016 @ 3 p.m.

Where: The House Triangle, pictured on right, is located in the grassy triangle area on the Capitol Building’s East Front lawn, just off Independence Ave. near New Jersey Ave.

For the latest updates to this advisory, visit: http://chrissmith.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398989



Dân Biểu Alan Lowenthal Gọi Quyết Định Bãi Bỏ Cấm Vận Vũ Khí Đối Với Việt Nam
Là Thất Sách và Quá Sớm
Trích dẫn các thiếu sót về cải thiện nhân quyền từ chính quyền Việt Nam

HOA THỊNH ĐỐN (Ngày 23 tháng 5, 2016) Dân Biểu Liên Bang Hoa Kỳ Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) hôm nay đã có những phát biểu dưới đây trước sự việc Hoa Kỳ bãi bỏ lệnh cấm vận vũ khí sát thương đối với Việt Nam:

“Quyết định của Hoa Kỳ bãi bỏ lệnh cấm vận vũ khí sát thương đối với Việt Nam là quá sớm và thất sách.  Tôi vô cùng thất vọng khi chúng ta mất đi thêm một cơ hội nhằm thúc đẩy chính quyền Việt Nam đưa ra bất kỳ cam kết nào về việc cải thiện nhân quyền của người dân Việt Nam.

“Bằng bất kỳ phương thức đo lường nào, Việt Nam gần đây vẫn chưa có tiến triển hướng tới việc tôn trọng những quyền tự do của chính người dân của họ.  Chỉ trước thời gian Tổng Thống Obama đến Việt Nam, chính quyền CSVN đã đàn áp các cuộc biểu tình vì thảm họa môi trường đang xảy ra tại bốn tỉnh Miền Trung Việt Nam và sau đó là cuộc bầu cử Quốc Hội CSVN được dựng lên và các ứng viên độc lập không được Đảng Cộng Sản phê chuẩn đã bị loại bỏ.  Ba ngày trước đây, một người Mỹ gốc Việt hoạt động vì nhân quyền là cô Nancy Nguyễn từ Nam California đã bị mất tích tại Việt Nam.  Trong ngày Tổng Thống Obama đặt chân đến Việt Nam, các nhà hoạt động và một số ký giả dự trù sẽ gặp Tổng Thống đã bị ngăn chặn bởi các thế lực của chính quyền CSVN.

“Việt Nam tiếp tục bắt giam các tù nhân lương tâm thuộc mọi giới, từ các luật sư nhân quyền, bloggers, cho đến các nhà hoạt động vì quyền lao động và các vị lãnh đạo tôn giáo.  Nếu Việt Nam muốn xây dựng một mối quan hệ mạnh mẽ hơn với Hoa Kỳ, và trước khi Hoa Kỳ bán bất kỳ vũ khí sát thương nào cho Việt Nam, thì chính quyền CSVN phải bắt đầu tôn trọng các quyền tự do và căn bản của người dân Việt Nam.”

REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ CONCERNED BY VIETNAM ARMS EMBARGO LIFTING
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam, released the following statement after President Obama announced the end of the embargo on sales of lethal arms to Vietnam. Last week, the House of Representatives passed Rep. Sanchez’s amendment expressing a Sense of Congress that increased military relations with Vietnam should be contingent on Vietnam’s commitment to implement human rights reforms.
“I fear that by prematurely lifting the arms embargo on Vietnam, the United States has perilously weakened our leverage for securing human rights reforms in Vietnam in the future. Now, what incentive is left for the Vietnamese government to meaningfully enact human rights reforms and respect the civil rights of the Vietnamese people? We’ve effectively handed them a free pass accompanied by a stern warning which Vietnam can easily disregard.”
“President Obama is supposed to meet with human rights activists tomorrow morning in Hanoi. But most, if not all, of these activists have been placed under house arrest or picked up by the police security. So even during the President’s visit, the Vietnamese government has continued engaging in blatant, systemic and egregious human rights violations against the Vietnamese people—from harassing and detaining peaceful activists, journalists and their families; to intense crackdowns on free speech, dissent and freedom of the press. I will continue to voice my grave concerns about the prospect of prioritizing trade or military power at the cost of human rights.”
“Yesterday, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Patrick Murphy called me and we had a discussion about the Administration’s new policy. I told Deputy Assistant Secretary Murphy that the Administration’s choice to pursue this new policy will be judged harshly by historians. According to Deputy Assistant Secretary Murphy it was a big concession for the Vietnamese government to release Father Nguyen Van Ly months before his term was up, however that’s not enough. The Vietnamese government must release all political prisoners in order to demonstrate their commitment to improve human rights.  It’s a sad day for American foreign policy and human rights.”
For the past 19 years, Congresswoman Sanchez has been a leading voice in Congress in calling for social justice and religious freedom for the Vietnamese people. Last week, Rep. Sanchez led a letter with 19 bipartisan members of Congress urging President Obama to raise concerns about Vietnam’s ongoing human rights violations and to advocate for the release of all Vietnamese prisoners of conscience during the President’s trip to Vietnam.  Additionally last week, Rep. Sanchez and Rep. Zoe Lofgren sent a letter to President Obama about Vietnam’s recent environmental catastrophe involving millions of dead fish washing ashore beginning in early April along the coastline, devastating the economy in coastal cities and presenting a health hazard for the people of Vietnam.
Rep. Sanchez believes the United States must hold the Vietnamese government accountable for its well documented egregious and systemic human rights violations before viable economic relations can be pursued. Rep. Sanchez proudly represents one of the largest Vietnamese populations outside of Vietnam in the world, in Orange County, California.
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This entry was posted on 05/24/2016 by in Cộng Sản VN, Diễn Đàn Chính Trị, Hoa Kỳ.

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