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House Foreign Affairs Committee Approves Smith’s Resolution Calling for Human Rights Reform in Vietnam

ICC Note: We must continue to put pressure on Vietnam to stop the human rights abuse

4/19/07 Vietnam For full story…(PRNewswire-USNewswire) — A resolution authored by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) calling for substantial human rights reforms in Vietnam was overwhelming approved today by the House Foreign Affairs Committee during their first mark-up since Vietnam’s kangaroo court conviction of Father Nguyen Van Ly.

“Father Ly’s sham trial proves once again that the regime in Hanoi is not committed to the human rights reforms they promised as a precondition for normalized trade relations. It is not enough for the Government of Vietnam to talk reform – they must also show progress through their deeds,” said Smith, who actively opposed the granting of normal trade relations with Vietnam . “Recent government actions show that Vietnam is moving backwards, not forward. This resolution reinforces our unwavering commitment to human rights reform in Vietnam and demands that the regime in Hanoi cease their persecution of dissidents.”

“There is no compromise, no halfway point when it comes to basic human rights. We must send a clear message to the Government of Vietnam that there is no place in modern society for their conduct.”

Introduced last month, Smith’s resolution (H.Res. 243) calls on the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including Father Ly and those who have been arrested in a recent wave of government oppression. The resolution also calls for the Government of Vietnam to comply with internationally recognized standards for basic freedoms and human rights.

“I have met with Father Ly and a number of other dissidents who are now behind bars or under constant surveillance and harassment in Vietnam . The bullies in Hanoi continue their systematic and brutal politically motivated crackdown on democratic activists and this must end,” Smith said.

“Father Ly’s arrest and conviction are purely political, a shameful attempt to silence him and intimidate anyone else who dares to speak out against the government. We have an obligation to speak up for Father Ly and other dissidents who are persecuted in Vietnam . Now that the Committee has spoken through this resolution, it is time for the full House to immediately pass it and give a voice to the dissidents in Vietnam ,” Smith added.

Earlier this year, 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 is an advisor to “Block 8406” – a democracy movement which started last April – and a new political party, the Vietnam Progression Party.