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US GOP Reps Decry Vietnam Rights Record Ahead Of Min’s Visit

ICC Note: The human rights issue in Vietnam seems to be a recurring theme. As the efforts of people across the nation come together now is the time to demand that Vietnam be returned to the CPC list

3/15/07 Vietnam For full story…….(AP)–Ahead of meetings between Vietnam’s foreign minister and top U.S. officials, Republican lawmakers on Wednesday accused Vietnam of ignoring human-rights pledges it made before joining the World Trade Organization and increasing its repression of dissidents.

Vietnam , one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, achieved its coveted goal of membership in the global commerce body in January; U.S. officials expressed hope at the time that the country had begun making progress toward reforming what was said to be a dismal record of abusing citizen rights.

Human Rights Watch, a leading rights group, says Vietnam has recently launched one of the worst crackdowns on dissidents in 20 years.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., told reporters that Vietnam had merely pretended to change and that those speaking out against the government continued to be harassed.

“Any progress that has been made has been absolutely erased,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif, said.

The State Department said in its most recent human-rights report that Vietnam ‘s rights record remains unsatisfactory. It noted that abuse by local officials continued despite central government efforts to make changes.

Vietnamese police last week arrested two human rights lawyers and accused them of spreading anti-government propaganda, according to family members and activists.

One of the lawyers, Nguyen Van Dai, was recently honored by Human Rights Watch, which gave him an award for his pro-democracy writings and work on behalf of dissidents.