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 []



                            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.