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Public Statements

H. Res. 484 and H.R. 1410

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MORAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the two bills before us on human rights in Vietnam. These bills will enhance U.S. efforts to promote media and religious freedom in Vietnam, while communicating our concern and desire to protect the courageous advocates for freedom who risk everything to change their country for the better. I urge my colleagues to support both.

H. Res. 484 condemns the increasing repression by Vietnam's government of community organizers, bloggers, and democracy activists. Across the world, social media has empowered people to push for the rights that should be inherent in their citizenship. It has been like a wind filling the sails of movements pushing for more freedom, stronger accountability, and greater commitment to justice.

But we cannot forget that behind these social media are courageous individuals who risk everything to achieve those goals. This bill will make it clear to the government of Vietnam that their use of vague national security provisions in the penal code has been noted, and that the U.S. Congress will continue to press for freedom for people who are swept into prison under such shameful circumstances.

People like Nguyen Quoc Quan, a peaceful democracy activist and a U.S. citizen, who was arrested while visiting his home country. Recently, his prison sentence under one article has been extended four months under another. He was charged with terrorism under Article 88, and then the prosecutor rescinded that judgment and extended his jail term for ``attempting to overthrow the government'' under Article 79. We call this what it is: arbitrary, cruel, and unfair, and with this bill we call on the Vietnamese authorities to release all political prisoners, especially activists, writers, and bloggers who have been imprisoned under these provisions of the Vietnamese criminal code.

H.R. 1410 emphasizes that, while the United States will continue to work together with the Government of Vietnam on important issues of mutual concern, we will not increase our commitment of assistance until and unless they make substantial progress on media and religious freedoms, minority rights, access to U.S. refugee programs, and ending trafficking in persons.

This bill will bring hope to Vietnam's courageous democracy advocates that the United States values their efforts and will keep human rights at the center of our relationship.

The United States has taken important steps to demonstrate that that we hope to build a common future with Vietnam built on cooperation, development, and peace. In recent years, we have maintained a robust program of bilateral aid to Vietnam because it is in our national interest and it is in the interest of the people of Vietnam.

But Vietnam cannot reach its potential as a nation if its people are denied basic rights. And sadly, the government of Vietnam is taking the country backwards in terms of human freedom. These two bills make clear that a good relationship requires progress on this critical issue.

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