Promoting greater respect for human rights remains a key component of U.S. foreign policy, including in its relations with Vietnam.
At a recent meeting of the U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scott Busby expressed concern over the increasing number of political prisoners in Vietnam, which he estimated to be over 100. Mr. Busby described his visit with one such prisoner:
“While I was in Vietnam, I made a visit to one political prisoner of particular concern, namely Tran Thi Nga who is imprisoned in the middle of the country. She received a nine year long sentence merely for exercising her freedom of speech. She served two years of that sentence already but faces another seven years.”
Internet freedom is also under assault in Vietnam, reports Deputy Assistant Secretary Busby. “Vietnam,” he said, “recently adopted a cyber security law that we have a number of concerns about. . . . We as the Human Rights Bureau of course are concerned about the restrictions this law poses on exercise of freedom of speech.”
Bloggers are being arrested in ever larger numbers. The U.S. raised with Vietnam the case of blogger and contributor to Radio Free Asia, Truong Duy Nhat, said Mr. Busby:
“He was recently in Thailand and applied for refugee status in Thailand with UNHCR and then mysteriously disappeared from Thailand and suddenly reappeared in a jail in Vietnam. We're very concerned about his case about the circumstances surrounding his abduction in Thailand and his transfer to Vietnam. He has not yet been charged or prosecuted. But we're very concerned about the way the government is treating his case.”
With regard to religious freedom, the Vietnamese government’s record is mixed said Deputy Assistant Secretary Busby: “We continue to have concern that unregistered religious groups in Vietnam are being harassed are not able to freely practice their religion. That said those groups that have been willing to register under Vietnam's religious freedom law have enjoyed a greater degree of freedom to practice their religions than they have in the past.”
The U.S. continues to call on the Vietnamese government to release all prisoners of conscience and allow all Vietnamese citizens to express their political views without fear of retribution.
Anncr: That was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.