May 17, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam, today led a letter with 19 bipartisan members of Congress urging President Obama to raise concerns about Vietnam’s ongoing human rights violations and to advocate for the release of all Vietnamese prisoners of conscience during the President’s upcoming trip to Vietnam.
“Your upcoming visit to Vietnam is an opportunity to define the future of US-Vietnam relations. We hope you will seize this opportunity to engage directly with the Vietnamese people and to send a clear message that America stands with the Vietnamese who yearn for freedom,” wrote Rep. Sanchez and lawmakers. “We urge you to convey our serious concerns about the Vietnamese government’s ongoing arbitrary detention of human rights activists and repression of freedom of expression.”
The letter includes a list of over 100 Vietnamese activists, journalists, and bloggers who have been unjustly imprisoned by the Vietnamese government. Rep. Sanchez and lawmakers urge President Obama to advocate for the immediate and unconditional release of those prisoners and all prisoners of conscience, writing, “Making time in your schedule to meet directly with human rights defenders and especially the families of imprisoned activists would send a strong signal about the U.S. commitment to championing liberty.”
In the letter, Rep. Sanchez and lawmakers also express concern against the United States potentially lifting the arms embargo on Vietnam: “Vietnam must demonstrate a serious commitment to improving its human rights record before the Administration considers such a move.”
Letter signees include: Reps. Alan Lowenthal, Zoe Lofgren, Susan Davis, Matt Cartwright, Judy Chu, Mark DeSaulnier, Keith Ellison, Mike Honda, Sheila Jackson Lee, Barbara Lee, Jim McDermott, James McGovern, Grace Napolitano, Scott Peters, Joseph Pitts, Mark Pocan, Linda Sánchez, Christopher Smith, and John Yarmuth.
For the past 19 years, Congresswoman Sanchez has been a leading voice in Congress in calling for social justice and religious freedom for the Vietnamese people. Rep. Sanchez continues to call attention to the growing hostile and oppressive environment in Vietnam for freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
Rep. Sanchez believes the United States must hold the Vietnamese government accountable for its well documented egregious and systemic human rights violations before viable economic relations can be pursued. Rep. Sanchez proudly represents one of the largest Vietnamese populations outside of Vietnam in the world, in Orange County, California.
###Source: Loretta Sanchez