May 11, 2010 - Issue: Vol. 156, No. 70 — Daily Edition111th Congress (2009 - 2010) - 2nd Session
COMMEMORATING VIETNAM HUMAN RIGHTS DAY; Congressional Record Vol. 156, No. 70
(Extensions of Remarks - May 11, 2010)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E805-E806] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] COMMEMORATING VIETNAM HUMAN RIGHTS DAY ______ HON. ZOE LOFGREN of california in the house of representatives Tuesday, May 11, 2010 Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Madam Speaker, I rise in honor of the 16th Commemoration of Vietnam Human Rights Day. I am proud to represent San Jose, home to the largest Vietnamese population outside of [[Page E806]] Vietnam itself. Many of my constituents have family and friends still in Vietnam, and the reports about the human rights situation in that country are concerning. Beginning in 1994, Congress has designated May 11th as Vietnam Human Rights Day--a day to reflect on the struggles of the thousands of innocent Vietnamese citizens that seek basic human rights and freedom. Sadly, in the sixteen years since Congress first established this day calling for Hanoi to respect basic human rights, the situation has not improved. In fact, after the United States granted Vietnam Permanent Normal Trade Relations in 2006, conditions worsened as the Vietnamese government, having received the trade agreement it sought, returned to its violent and incursive methods of silencing free speech. While the Vietnamese government presents a facade of democracy to the world, journalists, bloggers, and whistleblowers are imprisoned for merely raising questions about government policies or calling attention to corrupt behavior. Pro-democracy activists are arrested and jailed under arbitrary, expansive, and vague anti-propaganda laws, often without due process. Despite years of pressure from Congress and humanitarian organizations, the Vietnamese government continues to deny these charges, show a lack of a serious commitment to reform, and openly violate both its own constitution as well as its international human rights obligations. Moreover, religious freedom remains an issue. Reports of harassment, discrimination, and repression related to religion continue. In its Annual Report for 2010, released this month, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has renewed its call for Vietnam to be designated as a Country of Particular Concern by the State Department. I wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation, and strongly urge the State Department to follow it. On this May 11th, I ask my colleagues to honor the efforts of those who are fighting for freedom and democracy in Vietnam, and to consider how we might be of assistance in their difficult and courageous struggle for the basic human rights that we, as Americans, enjoy. ____________________