Brave dissidents the world over daily put their lives on the line in an effort to bring about peaceful, democratic change in their respective countries. One such man is Vietnamese human rights and political activist Dr. Nguyen Dan Que. On February 25th, Dr. Que was taken into custody by Vietnamese authorities following his appeal for non-violent demonstrations, demanding an end to the Vietnamese government's one-party rule. Dr. Que was released 25 hours later, although he has been called back for additional interrogation.
The harassment is "unacceptable," a U.S. State Department spokesman said. "We have and will continue to express our deep concerns." Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Dr. Daniel Baer reiterated that Dr. Que, "should not be arrested for expressing peaceful political opinions."
Dr. Que heads the Non-Violent Movement for Human Rights in Vietnam, which regularly highlights the lack of freedom of expression and denial of press freedom in Vietnam. Dr. Que has been jailed three times since 1978, serving a total of 20 years behind bars for promoting democracy and human rights.
The U.S. Government continues to urge Vietnam to improve its human rights record, respecting the rights of all its citizens. In addressing the case of democracy advocate Father Nguyen Van Ly, Dr. Baer reiterated that the U.S. Government "continues to call, as we have since he was first imprisoned, for his unconditional release" and noted a letter signed by 37 U.S. Senators echoing that call.
It is time for the Vietnamese government to respect the universal human rights of its citizens, including Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Father Nguyen Van Ly, and other victims of political repression in Vietnam.