Smith Calls on Vietnamese Government to Immediately Release Political Prisoners
ICC Note: ICC stands behind Chris Smith as he speaks the truth about Vietnam . We will be sending out a petition to put Vietnam back on the CPC list.
3/15/07 Vietnam (PRNewswire-USNewswire) — As Vietnamese Deputy
Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem arrived in Washington ,
DC, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) held a press conference on Capitol Hill to demand that the Government of Vietnam immediately end their ongoing, unbridled human rights abuses and free all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
“We are here today to tell the Vietnamese government that enough is
enough. It is time for human rights to flourish in Vietnam ,” Smith said at
the press conference where he was joined in his call by his colleagues
Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA), as
well as prominent human rights activists. “Individuals targeted during the
recent wave of arrests in Vietnam only want to live in peace and enjoy
basic freedoms. The regime in Hanoi needs to stop playing games and start
respecting the basic human rights of their people.”
At the press conference, Smith announced that he is introducing a
resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives to demand the immediate
release of Father Nguyen Van Ly, Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan and other
political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. The resolution also calls
for the Government of Vietnam to comply with internationally recognized
standards for basic freedoms and human rights.
“I have been to Vietnam and met with Father Ly, Nguyen Van Dai and over
60 other dissidents. These are smart, talented and kind people-some of
Vietnam ‘s best and brightest. They harbor no malice toward the government.
They only want a better future for their country,” said Smith.
Last month, the parish house of Father Ly-a former prisoner of
conscience who spent over 13 years in prison-was raided. Father Ly was
moved to a remote location and placed under house arrest. Father Ly was one
of the founders of “Block 8406”-a democracy movement which started last
April-and his arrested coincided with the establishment of a new political
party he started, the Vietnam Progression Party.
Earlier this month, Vietnamese police arrested another member of “Block
8406″ and the principal spokesperson for the Vietnam Progression Party, Le
Thi Cong Nhan. On the same day — March 6, 2007 — Vietnamese police
arrested one of Vietnam ‘s few practicing human rights lawyers, Nguyen Van
Smith compared these political prisoners to Vaclav Havel, the author of
Charter 77 and key leader in the movement to bring peaceful democratic
reform to Czechoslovakia in the late 1980’s.
“These individuals are the Vaclav Havels of Vietnam . Their
incarcerations — under a bogus Soviet-era article — are meant to harass,
intimidate and keep them from bringing about peaceful change. Their arrests
cannot and should not stand,” Smith said.
Smith also noted that the removal of Vietnam ‘s Country of Particular
Concern (CPC) designation by the U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom (USCIRF) is not permanent. Vietnam ‘s CPC designation was removed
prior to the U.S. granting trade relations with Vietnam .
“USCIRF should consider reinstating Vietnam ‘s CPC designation in light
of the regime’s recent actions. Nothing precludes us from putting them back
on that list. We can and should put them back on tomorrow if the regime
does not take immediate action to improve human rights conditions in
Vietnam ,” said Smith.