Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose, CA) today released the official response she received from the State Department on Vietnam's human rights record and the detention of Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan (Richard Nguyen), an American citizen and democracy activist. The letter expresses the State Department's concern with human rights conditions in Vietnam and highlights the efforts Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Shear, and the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam have taken to try and secure the release of Dr. Nguyen.
The letter makes clear that the United States government will not tolerate the rollback of human rights conditions in Vietnam, stating: "During Secretary Clinton's meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi on July 10, she urged Vietnam to release political prisoners, respect religious freedom, and allow Vietnamese citizens to peacefully express their political views, both online and elsewhere. We have been clear with Vietnamese leaders that the American people will not support broad advances in political and economic relations between our countries without demonstrable progress on human rights."
"I'm pleased to hear that Secretary Clinton and the State Department are taking proactive steps to combat the numerous and egregious human rights abuses in Vietnam," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren. "Specifically, I'm hopeful that the efforts of Ambassador Shear and his team at the U.S. Embassy will result in the imminent release of Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan. The repressive Vietnamese government has long silenced voices of dissent. We must continue to push the Vietnamese government to respect human rights and allow for meaningful freedom of speech. Secretary Clinton's leadership on human rights issues in Vietnam can only be commended."
The State Department's letter was in response to an inquiry Rep. Lofgren wrote to Secretary Clinton on August 6, 2012. The inquiry expressed the Congresswoman's concern about ongoing human rights issues in Vietnam and the imprisonment of Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan, a U.S. citizen who was arrested in Vietnam on April 17, 2012.