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Pressing Vietnam On Human Rights

Catholic Priest Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly (file)

Problems persist, including the intimidation and detention of peaceful political and religious activists.

The United States and Vietnam have cooperated in many areas to expand the scope and depth of our relations, but the human rights situation there remains of concern.

Pressing Vietnam On Human Rights
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The Southeast Asian nation has taken some positive steps in this area, but problems persist, including the intimidation and detention of peaceful political and religious activists. 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.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dan Baer traveled to Hanoi recently for the latest round of regular dialogues between U.S. and Vietnamese leaders to discuss human rights issues. The meeting covered several concerns, including religious freedom, the rule of law, prisoners of conscience, labor rights and freedom of expression.

The deputy assistant secretary was granted permission to visit Father Nguyen Van Ly, a religious and human rights activist jailed for “inciting dissent.” He also met privately with the wives of two leading democracy advocates also under arrest there.

Mr. Baer also planned to meet with Dr. Pham Hong Son and Nguyen Van Dai to discuss the state of human rights in Vietnam. Authorities surrounded Dai’s house, however, and detained Dr. Son for several hours of questioning to prevent them from attending the meeting.

These actions are troubling and underscore the need for Vietnam to better comply with its international human rights obligations and commitments. Progress on human rights would have the added benefit of helping Vietnam fulfill its economic potential, fight corruption and make the country a more appealing destination for global trade, investment and people-to-people exchanges.

The United States urges Vietnam to respect freedom of expression for all its citizens, including the freedom to express one’s political opinions and religious beliefs. We also continue to call for the government to release all political and religious prisoners of conscience.