Rep. Loretta Sanchez urges Congress to pressure State Department on Vietnam

We received this press release from the office of Rep. Loretta Sanchez this morning.

Calls on colleagues to sign letter urging Secretary Clinton to label Vietnam a “Country of Particular Concern” for abusing religious freedom

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers today called on their Congressional colleagues to sign a letter urging the State Department to re-designate Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its egregious abuses of religious freedom. The letter, which has been signed by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Joseph Cao (R-LA), and Ed Royce (R-CA), highlights a string of incidents in which religious leaders and activists were persecuted for their beliefs.

“My colleagues in the Congressional Vietnam Caucus and I are urging Secretary Clinton to take concrete action to hold Vietnam accountable for its severe abuses of religious freedom,” said Rep. Sanchez, who is Co-Chair of the Caucus. “Vietnam has shown a complete disregard for the rights of its citizens, actively suppressing religious activity and persecuting people of faith. It’s time for our country to actually penalize these abuses and place Vietnam back on the State Department’s ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ list.”

A copy of the letter, which was released earlier today, can be found below. Members of the public are encouraged to call their U.S. Representatives to express their support for Rep. Sanchez’s letter:

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton:

We write today to respectfully request that you take a meaningful step to help advance religious freedom and related human rights in Vietnam by re-designating Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) under theInternational Religious Freedom Act of 1998. It is encouraging that the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi has publicly condemned recent arrests, detentions, and acts of violence that “contradict Vietnam’s own commitment to internationally accepted standards of human rights and the rule of law.” Unfortunately Vietnam’s oppression of its citizens, particularly over the last year, continues to demonstrate that public statements of concern are simply not enough.

We believe that the CPC designation is a powerful and effective tool to both spotlight abuses of religious freedom and to encourage specific improvement. When Vietnam was designated a CPC in the past, it did not hinder advancement on other bilateral interests, but led to real improvements on a number of critical human rights concerns. In addition, protecting and promoting religious freedom is a core American value and essential to the success of many of our global interests.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Human Rights Watch, and other organizations have provided credible evidence of severe and ongoing religious freedom violations in Vietnam, including the active suppression of independent religious activity, forced renunciations of faith, the expulsion of monks and nuns and effective disbandment of the order associated with the renowned Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, and the jailing of religious freedom activists such as Father Nguyen Van Ly,and the human rights lawyers Le Cong Dinh and Nguyen Van Dai.

Additionally, the imprisonment of hundreds of Montagnard Christians and the ongoing arrests and harsh repression of Montagnards belonging to independent house churches is another indication that pressure must be brought to bear on the Vietnamese government. These issues are serious and indicate that Vietnam’s religious freedom situation warrants more concerted diplomatic action.

We cannot allow Vietnam’s continued backsliding on human rights and related rule of law issues to continue with minimal reaction from the United States. Working to guarantee internationally recognized freedoms is in the interest of the American people, the Vietnamese people and future success of U.S.-Vietnam relations.

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Just one more example of what Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez does every day for the Vietnamese community in her district that Van Tran can’t.

  8 comments for “Rep. Loretta Sanchez urges Congress to pressure State Department on Vietnam

  1. Slatemag
    March 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    It’s another audacity of NOPE.
    Loretta told people in Little Saigon that she has a direct phone line with Secretary Clinton. She can call Clinton any time and spare us another acting, please. And this has been going on for the last 13 years. Enough as enough.

  2. Slatemag
    March 23, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    It’s another audacity of NOTHING.
    Loretta told people in Little Saigon that she had a direct phone line with Secretary Clinton. Why doesn’t she call Clinton now and spare us another cheap acting. This showmanship has been going on in the last 13 years. Enough as enough.

  3. Slatemag
    March 23, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Please spare us another cheap acting.

  4. Vo
    March 25, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Van Tran sent a letter nearly identical to this in mid Jan 2010. It has been well documented in the Vietnamese press that Tran sent the letter and has met with State Department, NSC and trade officials in DC. Sanchez is 2 months behind on this issue.

    Maybe she could have brought this up to Clinton when the SOS called to lobby Sanchez on the healthcare bill. She would have if she cared about the issue. Like all her efforts for the Vietnamese community – it amounts to not much more than talk. Talk that is 2 months behind. Not very impressive for someone in the majority party and a big Clinton supporter.

  5. Vo
    March 25, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Here is a copy of the letter:

    January 14, 2010

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Via Facsimile & Mail
    U.S. Department of State
    2201 C Street NW
    Washington, DC 20520

    Dear Secretary Clinton:

    I am writing you to request that the U.S. State Department re-designate the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern, citing the most recent violent and repressive actions of the Vietnam government against the Dong Chiem Catholic Church in Hanoi, Vietnam as well as several specific previous issues.

    According to reports from the BBC, AFP and Catholic News Services among others, an estimated 600 to 1000 heavily armed police moved in to the Nui Tho cemetery early January 6, 2010 morning and used explosives to demolish the crucifix on the premises. Parishioners were severely beaten when they tried to stop the government forces from the violent actions. Some parishioners sustained serious injuries and had to be hospitalized.

    Last September, about 1500 police and government thugs surrounded and took over the school of Loan Ly Catholic church in Hue. Last October, the government resorted to similar tactics against the Bat Nha monastery and violently evicted 400 monks and nuns from this Buddhist temple. Last November, the Lady of Lavang statue of Bau Sen Catholic church cemetery was bulldozed.

    I have repeatedly written the United States Ambassador to Vietnam and the Government of Vietnam to cease persecuting Mennonite Church Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh of Pleiku, Vietnam. The unwarranted persecution of this Pastor has increased since the November 1, 2009 announcement of his being awarded the 2009 Vietnam Human Rights Award in Washington, D.C.

    Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh has been prevented from exercising his basic human right to worship God for years. While constantly encircling this Pastor’s house, Pleiku Police Officers have been severely assaulting him and abusing his family. In July 2009 Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh was forced to flee his house to seek medical aid for his ailing wife, for which he was jailed and much later released. Such unwarranted persecution continues.

    In the past, Vietnam has pledged to publicly improve its religious freedom standards in order to receive special considerations from an outside world that freely supports these same religious freedoms the Dong Chiem Catholic Church tries to exercise in Vietnam.

    As a demonstration of Vietnam’s wish to continue improved relations with other civilized countries, it should cease persecuting the Dong Chiem Catholic Church, the Loan Ly Catholic church in Hue, the Bat Nha monastery and Buddhist temple, the Bau Sen Catholic church and Mennonite Church Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh of Pleiku, Vietnam.

    I ask that you intervene in this matter and immediately re-designate the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to your swift reply. If you have any questions or if I may be of assistance in this matter please feel free to contact my Costa Mesa office at 714-668-2100.

    Sincerely,

    VAN TRAN
    Assemblyman, 68th District
    State of California

  6. BolsaCitizen
    March 25, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    The difference between Rep. Loretta Sanchez and Mr. Tran is that Rep. Loretta Sanchez works everyday for her constituents. Mr. Tran wants to appear as to work during election year. Below is the text of a letter sent by Rep. Sanchez to Secretary Clinton regarding CPC issue in September of 2009, four months before Mr. Tran’s January 2010. So, who’s copying whom?

    ——————————————————————-
    September 30, 2009

    The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Secretary of State
    U.S. Department of State
    2201 C Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20520

    Dear Secretary Clinton:

    As you prepare to meet with Vietnamese Foreign Minister, Pham Gia Khiem on Thursday, October 1, 2009, I would like to urge you to address the deteriorating human rights situation in Vietnam with Foreign Minister Khiem. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. However, the Vietnamese government continues to detain and imprison Vietnamese citizens for exercising rights that are guaranteed under the UN Declaration. According to Human Rights Watch, the Government of Vietnam failed to comply with 45 recommendations raised by the UN Human Rights Council during the Universal Periodic Review including lifting internet and blogging controls on privately owned media and allowing individuals to promote human rights.

    I find it appalling that a country which blatantly acts in disregard to the UN Declaration will be acting as President of the UN Security Council in October. I request that you strongly urge the Government of Vietnam to meet its obligations to the UN and its people by upholding the basic principles ofthe UN – respect for human rights.

    On September, 27, 2009, the police in Vietnam assaulted over 130 monks and removed them from the Bat Nha Monastery before destroying it, a blatant violation of individuals’ right to freedom of religion. Also, recently, the following eight activists were imprisoned and are currently facing “propaganda against the socialist state” charges: Nguyen Xuan Nghia (writer), Ngo Quynh (university student), Nguyen Manh Son (former communist party member), Nguyen Van Tinh (essayist), Nguyen Van Tuc (land rights activist), Nguyen Kim Nhan (electrician), Vu Hung (high school teacher), and Pham Van Troi (engineer).

    On September 24, 2009, relatives of these dissidents appealed to the UN to directly intervene and request that the Government of Vietnam abide by UN human rights conventions by stopping the repression of political dissidents and releasing their relatives. The ongoing imprisonment of these peaceful activists is a worrisome sign that the Vietnamese government is not committed to protecting human rights or honoring their responsibilities as a member of the UN.

    I strongly urge you to speak out on behalf of not only these eight individuals but the citizens of Vietnam who are denied their rights to freedom of speech, expression and religion on a daily basis. The United States must establish clear policies demonstrating that it is unacceptable for the a’overnment of Vietnam to deny people their rights. I appreciate your consideration of this critical issue.

    Sincerely,
    Loretta Sanchez
    Member of Congress
    Cc: The Honorable Michael Michalak, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam

  7. Frank
    March 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Loretta needs to concentrate on the issues here. Maybe she can send a letter to the Secretary of Labor and all congressional members so that they could draft and pass a bill to help in creating more JOBS in AMERICA! Concentrate on the issues of the American people.

  8. May 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Dear: To who may concern Vietnam government airport custom rip off tourist at high level

    Vietnam communist corruption international airport violation human right. People travel to airport special Vietnamese American citizen has been treat bad, rip off by Vietnam airport customs.
    First line customs holding people passport and tell people star over stand line many times, bother people all stupid reason disrespect make people wait 6hrs. Then get to custom check lugged, continue bother item over tax charge. People don’t want to pay over tax custom impound. Import small gift personal items, single item not commercial valued at not more than $300 and people knew banned material, ( $329 a personal laptop import tax 300% which is $975tax) this country had three times high tax impact electronic just because different country different law policy, while in U.S already pay sale tax 10%. We are traveler tourist not commercial import. Exactly Vietnam custom don’t follow right policy, all bull lie theft no freedom. This is corruption of Vietnam government no one want to travel to Vietnam airport just because Vietnamese American citizen have family left over south Vietnam we have to visit every year. Some issue South Vietnam family no freedom lives under communist rule. Vietnam airport custom continues corruption, it will necessary Vietnamese American citizen and other VN around the world will open new revolution by any how cause or business even war to stop Vietnam fiction communist rule, government corruption. This situation is unacceptable had to take action now and strongly. United state government had been lack of power by state gov, Never been receive by government or any respond U.S business continue send job to Vietnam without approve. U.S had been ignoring sale country, labor to support communist wile American tourist rip-off by Vietnam communist.

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