Media Contact: David Thomas, 202.225.3072
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Lofgren offered the following statement for the Congressional Record today on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Vietnam Human Rights Day.
“During the month of May, we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage to commemorate the contributions Asian Pacific Americans have made to the fabric of our communities and to this nation as a whole. I could easily spend this month, and longer, describing the tremendous accomplishments of Asian Pacific Americans.
“However, today is the tenth anniversary of Vietnam Human Rights Day and we sadly must recognize that Vietnam has not come far enough in respecting the human rights of its citizens.
“Just one month ago, on Easter Week, Human Rights Watch reported that peaceful protests by indigenous minority Christian Montagnards turned violent when police used tear gas, electric truncheons, and water cannons on protestors. Reports indicate that police arrested several individuals, many whose whereabouts are currently unknown. Worse yet are reports of torture, police beatings, and deaths associated with this crackdown on the Montagnards.
“Today, my colleagues, Congressmen Chris Smith, Tom Davis, Loretta Sanchez and I are introducing a Congressional resolution recognizing the countless number of innocent Vietnamese “who have been tortured, imprisoned, or held under house arrest by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”
“Also today, Congressman Smith is leading an effort, with over 100 cosponsors, to pass House Concurrent Resolution 378 to call on Vietnam to immediately release Father Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly and condemn the ‘violations of freedom of speech, religion, movement, association, and the lack of due process afforded to individuals in Vietnam.’
“Ten years ago, the Congress and the Senate passed a resolution designating today, May 11th, as Vietnam Human Rights Day, recognizing that ‘the United States, as the leader of the free world, has a special responsibility to safeguard freedom and promote the protection of human rights throughout the world.’
“Unfortunately, President Bush and his Administration have not heeded that responsibility to safeguard human rights. Although this Administration tells me they are ‘deeply troubled by the restrictions that the government of Vietnam places on its citizens’ freedom of expression, as well as other human rights,’ this Administration has been initiating a new friendly relationship with the communist regime in Vietnam without demanding protection of human rights as a condition of our friendship.
The Bush Administration’s hypocrisy and apathetic attitude towards human rights is unacceptable. As long as the people of Vietnam are oppressed, abused, and imprisoned, our President should first demand protection of human rights before getting friendly with a communist regime that oppresses its people.
On this 10th Anniversary of Vietnam Human Rights Day, I urge our President to condemn the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for violating human rights and I call on the Vietnamese government to protect the human rights of its citizens.