Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) released the following statement commemorating the 17th anniversary of Vietnam Human Rights Day.
The images of people rising up and demanding democracy across the Middle East serve as a vivid reminder of the freedoms that countless Vietnamese have been beaten, tortured, imprisoned, and murdered trying to achieve. Journalists, bloggers, students, whistleblowers, and religious communities face harassment, abuse, and imprisonment for speaking out. Pro-democracy activists are routinely arrested and jailed under draconian and wide-reaching anti-propaganda laws, without due process or the ability to even speak in their own defense. The U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2011 Annual Report two weeks ago, stating that “[t]he government of Vietnam continues to control religious communities, severely restrict and penalize independent religious practice, and brutally repress individuals and groups viewed as challenging its authority.”
Despite consistent pressure from Congress and human rights organizations, the Vietnamese government continues to violate its international human rights obligations and it very own constitution, silencing the voices of its citizens. Today, I ask all people of conscience to reflect on the struggles of the courageous Vietnamese citizens who are striving to implement change in an authoritarian society.