Even as the United States and Vietnam cooperate to expand the scope and depth of their relations, concerns remain that progress on human rights issues continues to lag in the Southeast Asian nation.
Vaguely worded laws enacted to protect state security have been used to intimidate and in many cases imprison peaceful political and religious activists. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top U.S. officials have made it clear that significant progress in ending these practices is needed to build closer relations between our two countries.
In one of the latest incidents of human rights abuses, a high school teacher in Vietnam’s Central Highlands region was arrested and has been held for months on suspicion of producing anti-government propaganda. Dinh Dang Dinh, 49 years old, was arrested in October and has been in police custody ever since.
Mr. Dinh had written articles questioning the government-supported development of a bauxite mine in an environmentally sensitive area of the Central Highlands. He was questioned by authorities and his laptop computer was found to have hundreds of pages of what authorities labeled “anti-state” content. The articles allegedly rejected the communist party of Vietnam and the ethics of the state’s founder, Ho Chi Minh.
The United States is concerned about Mr. Dinh’s arrest on the charges related to his on-line writings. We urge Vietnam to respect freedom of expression for all Vietnamese, including the freedom to express political opinions and to criticize government policies.