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Public Statements

Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1410, the Vietnam Human Rights Act. I am an original co-sponsor of this legislation, and I thank Mr. Smith for introducing it.

This bill would prohibit any increase in U.S. non-humanitarian aid to Vietnam until significant progress is made with regard to political and religious rights for the people of Vietnam, including the release of political and religious prisoners, and the repeal or revision of laws that criminalize peaceful dissent and otherwise impede democratic freedoms.

The human rights situation in Vietnam is dire, and shows no signs of improvement. Reporters Without Borders ranks Vietnam as 172nd of 179 in its Press Freedom Index (last in Southeast Asia, and only two spots above China) and an article in Foreign Policy magazine recently referred to Vietnam as ``the most repressive country in Southeast Asia.''

According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom's (USCIRF) 2012 Annual Report, ``The government of Vietnam continues to control all religious communities, restrict and penalize independent religious practice severely, and repress individuals and groups viewed as challenging its authority ..... The U.S. government should use its diplomatic and political resources to advance religious freedom and related human rights in Vietnam.''

I agree. We need to send a message to the Vietnamese government and make it clear that we do not condone its repression of free speech and democracy. I also want to add that on April 17th, the American democracy activist Nguyen Quoc Quan was arrested in Vietnam and remains in detention. I urge the Vietnamese government to release Dr. Quan, and I urge my colleagues to stand up to the Vietnamese government and support this bill.

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