Media Contact: Christine Glunz, 202.225.3072
Washington, DC – Representatives Lofgren (D-CA) and Sanchez (D-CA) joined by leaders in the Vietnamese religious and political community, held a press conference today, calling on Vietnam to cease its latest assault on human and religious freedom. They unveiled H.Res. 427, a resolution introduced by the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam (CCV), which acknowledges the leadership of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and the urgent need for religious freedom and related human rights in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.o:p>
“The Vietnamese government continues to systematically violate the human rights of its citizens through political, cultural, and religious oppression,” Lofgren said. “In fact, it seems things have gotten worse in recent years. The world is watching and we will not cease until we see improvements in Vietnam.”
“Although Vietnam has pledged to uphold the right to freedom of expression, the Government has, in fact, acted to the contrary. Vietnam needs to know that the United States is watching and that it will be held accountable for its actions,” said Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. “It is our hope that this resolution will not only bring an end to the current crackdown on the UBCV, but compel the Government of Vietnam to finally bestow on its people the basic right of religious freedom.”
“Members of Congress have repeatedly sent letters to the Vietnamese government asking them to release prisoners of conscience and to refrain from various forms of political, religious, and cultural oppression,” Lofgren said. “In addition, the US State Department has steadily called for the release of prisoners. The vast majority of these requests seem to fall on deaf ears.”
In early October, the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam held two peaceful assemblies in the Binh Dinh Province of Vietnam to discuss church affairs and elect new leadership following promises of a new era of “respect and understanding for religious freedom” by Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Khai. In stark contrast to this promise of “respect and understanding”, Vietnamese Security Police intercepted the new UBCV leadership as they left Binh Dinh province. After a tense 10-hour standoff, 11 monks were arrested and placed under administrative detention. UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang, 86, and his Deputy, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Thich Quang Do, 75, are currently being held in total isolation.