News / Asia

US Steps Up Pressure on Vietnam Over Human Rights

US Senator John McCain (R) speaks next to US Senator Joseph Lieberman (on left) at a press conference in Hanoi on January 19, 2012.
US Senator John McCain (R) speaks next to US Senator Joseph Lieberman (on left) at a press conference in Hanoi on January 19, 2012.
Ron Corben

A report by Human Rights Watch says Vietnam’s government has intensified repression against activists and dissidents over the past year.  The U.S.-based group is calling for the immediate release of political prisoners in Vietnam. The call came as senior U.S. congressmen on a visit to Southeast Asia stepped up pressure on Vietnam's government to improve its rights record, saying it is a condition for expanded bilateral military ties with the United States.

The Human Rights Watch global report, released Sunday, says Vietnam had carried out a “systematic crackdown” that in 2011 led to the prosecution of over 30 activists, who were charged under what the report calls “vaguely-worded articles” in Vietnam’s penal code and sentenced to prison.

The report says bloggers, writers, human rights defenders, land rights activists, religious and other groups were targeted by Vietnamese authorities and faced harassment, intimidation, arrest, torture and imprisonment.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, says the arrests breach Vietnam’s stance on civil and political rights.

“At least 33 people that we know of in prison this year for basically either freedom of expression, association or peaceful assembly.  Things ranging from holding up a placard or doing blogs on the net.  All these things that should be protected in Vietnam, because people forget that it’s a fact that Vietnam has ratified the international covenant on civil and political rights," he said.

Among those recently arrested was a female activist, Bui Thi Minh Hang, who was sentenced to two years in a re-education camp.

Robertson called for the United States government to maintain pressure on Vietnam's government to release the activists.

The Human Rights Watch report came a day after a U.S. delegation led by senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman warned Vietnam that expanded military ties with the U.S. were dependent on an improvement in Vietnam’s human rights record.

In a weekend briefing, Senator McCain said he made the U.S. position clear during talks with senior Vietnam government officials, and raised U.S. concerns over the deterioration in Vietnam’s human rights performance. “I think it’s also a fact that there has not been progress in human-rights issues; in fact, that there has been some backward movement on (it).  I specifically stated to the Vietnamese that our security relationship will be directly impacted by the human rights issue.  Make no bones about that.  And I think they have a clear understanding of that," he said.

Vietnam has been seeking to expand military ties with the U.S. and included a “wish list” of weaponry in talks with the senators last week.  No details of the list were made available.

Vietnam faces ongoing tensions with the Philippines, Taiwan and especially China over rival claims to resource-rich sections of the South China Sea.

Senator Lieberman said while the U.S. relationship with Vietnam had improved, the country’s human rights record remained a stumbling block. “What’s wrong is the backward movement on human rights. And we were specific; we said that there’s certain weapons systems that the Vietnamese would like to buy from us and we would like to transfer them, these systems to them. But it’s not going to happen unless they improve their human rights record. Practically speaking, Congress will not approve these weapon sales to Vietnam unless there’s an improvement in its human rights in Vietnam," he said.

Carl Thayer, a regional analyst with the University of New South Wales in Australia, says the fact that both President Barack Obama’s administration and the U.S. Congress support linking arms sales to human rights gives added weight to the pressure on Vietnam's government to reform. “So the bottom line conclusion is that the (Obama) administration has a policy of doing arms sales and two leading lights in the Senate are really saying that even if the administration wanted to change it (of linking arms sales with human rights), Congress would stop that.  So the Vietnamese are on notice, quite simply," he said.

In its global report, Human Rights Watch also denounced Vietnam's use of administrative detention and forced labor against so-called social undesirables, including drug addicts.  The rights group says that, as of early 2011, about 40,000 people, including children as young as 12, were being held in 123 detention centers across Vietnam.

It says that detainees who violated the centers' rules were subjected to beatings, electric shocks and being locked in disciplinary rooms without food and water.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More