Falls Church, VA (November 23, 2010) – BPSOS applauds the introduction of the Vietnam Human Rights Sanctions Act and the Vietnam Democracy Act of 2010. These two bills seek to impose sanctions on individual human rights violators and fund efforts of nongovernmental organizations and the Human Rights Defender Fund to promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam.
“The strengthening of US-Vietnam bilateral relations must not ignore our legal and moral obligations to protect freedom, promote the rule of law and basic human rights standards,” said Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, Executive Director of BPSOS. “These two pieces of legislation provide urgently needed courses of action and reflect clear voices of conscience and justice on behalf of the American people.”
BPSOS has provided members of Congress, the State Department, and various human rights organizations detailed documentation, including written and audio interviews of victims, showing the increasing patterns of oppression and human rights violations by Vietnamese government officials, in particular in the recent Con Dau incident.
Rep. Cao, the first and only Vietnamese American to serve in Congress, introduced both bills in the House and said he will “work hard” to push for approval of the bills before the 111th Congress adjourns in December. “It is imperative that we call the attention of the American public to Vietnam’s abysmal record on human rights so that immediate pressure can be applied on Hanoi to respect the freedom and dignity of Vietnamese nationals,” Rep. Cao said.
The Vietnam Human Rights Sanctions Act (H.R. 6433) was introduced concurrently in both chambers of United States Congress. The Vietnam Human Rights Sanctions Act imposes sanctions on individuals who are complicit in human rights abuses committed against nationals of Vietnam or their family members.
The original co-sponsors in the House are Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao (LA-02), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Rep. Christopher Smith (NJ-04), Rep. Frank Wolf (VA-10), Rep. Ed Royce (CA-40), and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA-47). The original co-sponsors in the Senate are Sen. Sam Brownback (KS), Sen. John Cornyn (TX), and Sen. Richard Burr (NC).
The legislation states that “the United States Congress agreed to Vietnam becoming an official member of the World Trade Organization in 2006, amidst assurances that the Government of Vietnam was steadily improving its human rights record and would continue to do so.” However, since then “the Government of Vietnam has continued to strictly regulate some religious practices and to imprison or put under house arrest an undetermined number of individuals for their peaceful advocacy of political views or religious beliefs.”
In a prepared statements, the co-sponsors said: “It is important that the United States government publicly condemn the arrests, detentions, and acts of violence that contradict Vietnam’s stated commitment to internationally accepted standards of human rights and the rule of law. Unfortunately, Vietnam’s oppression of its citizens, particularly over the last year, demonstrates the need for more targeted U.S. action. The Vietnamese government must reverse course on its human rights record in order to strengthen U.S.-Vietnam relations.”
For more details on this bill: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.6433.:
The Vietnam Democracy Promotion Act of 2010 (H.R.6432) was introduced in the House by Rep. Cao. The bill seeks to encourage Vietnam to improve its human rights record by funding the efforts of nongovernmental organizations and the Human Rights Defender Fund to promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam.
The legislation would also withhold non-humanitarian assistance to Vietnam’s government until it improves its human rights record.
For more details on this bill: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.6432.:
Founded in 1980, BPSOS is a national community organization operating at 18 locations across the United States. BPSOS empowers individuals, strengthens families, and builds communities through Direct Services, Advocacy, Media, Community Development and Organizing, and Research. For more information, go to www.bpsos.org.