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Dissident Calls For Free Vietnam

In its recently released annual survey of human rights around the world, the United States noted that Vietnam's human rights record remains poor.

Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly and association are all restricted in Vietnam. On September 15, 2004, the U.S. Secretary of State designated Vietnam a "Country of Particular Concern" for severe religious freedom violations.

Vietnamese security forces reportedly have beaten and detained religious believers. In February, Vietnam released several prominent prisoners of conscience, including Dr. Nguyen Dan Que and Father Nguyen Van Ly. Dr. Que has been repeatedly arrested for speaking out in favor of human rights and democracy, and has spent a total of twenty years in prison. He was most recently jailed when he challenged the Vietnamese government’s assertion that it allowed free speech. Father Ly, an outspoken advocate for religious freedom and human rights, had been arrested twice and imprisoned for more than 13 years.

The United States has welcomed their release and urges the Government of Vietnam to grant amnesty to other prisoners of conscience who remain behind bars or are otherwise detained for acts of peaceful, constructive dissent. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that human rights is a key factor in the United States' relations with other countries:

"In all that lies ahead, our nation will continue to clarify for other nations the moral choice between oppression and freedom, and we will make it clear that ultimately success in our relations depends on the treatment of their own people."

Freedom, democracy and human rights, says Secretary of State Rice, are "the non-negotiable demands of human dignity."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.