Because of our great respect and admiration for the communist government of Vietnam, we have published this without any editing or comment. PEACE and FREEDOM.
VietNamNet Bridge – The U.S. House of Representatives made on 18 September an other wrong decision against Vietnam by ratifying a legal document coded H.R. 3096. The whole world has now become interactive and connected but it would be unacceptable for a law-making body of one country to threaten to use sanctions against another country for its internal affairs.
It was not a big surprise when Republican Representative Christopher Smith, who has been so vocal against Vietnam’s human rights record, authored the legislation. It was not strange too when the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the bill, the “Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2007,” last July and the House itself made its latest move. The reason is that several people in the U.S. still think they have the right to criticize individuals, organisations and even countries, despite of the reality.
The H.R. 3096 act prohibits increased U.S. non-humanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam unless the Southeast Asian nation meets a bevy of demands including the release of those people that Smith and his supporter call “political and religious prisoners,” respecting the right to freedom of religion and the human rights of members of all ethnic minority groups.
The act further pushed the intervention into Vietnam’s affairs by authorizing 4 million USD over two years for organizations and individuals that “promote human rights in Vietnam” and over 10 million USD for the Radio Free Asia which has been notorious for distorting any stories regarding Vietnam. Smith’s bill also requires the U.S. State Department to issue an annual report on the progress of human rights reform in Vietnam.
“The act has sent a signal to the Vietnam’s Government that violations of human rights will lead to sanctions,” said the author of the HR 3096 bill.
Who is Rep. Chris Smith?
Christopher Henry Smith, 54, is an Republican Party politician, who is a member of the United States House of Representatives for the 4th District of New Jersey. Since being elected to Congress, Smith has also played a key role over the years promoting human rights reforms in the former Soviet Union, Romania, Vietnam, China, Sudan, Cuba, and elsewhere.
One of Smith’s significant legislative achievements is his landmark Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Law, the nations’ first law that deals specifically with human trafficking.
However, the law-maker was rated a mere 13 percent, by the American Civil Liberties Union, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. Smith voted yes on an 78 billion USD emergency package for war in Iraq and Afghanistan but no on 84 million USD in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges. He voted no on more immigrants visas for skilled workers but yes on allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant and continuing intelligence gathering without civil oversight.
A man who cannot adhere to his own country’s ideals of civil liberties and human rights, how could Rep. Chris Smith instruct those from abroad on what is right or wrong? Vietnam and those countries under Smith’s unreasonable scrutiny can never expect a pacifistic and constructive viewpoint from the U.S. law-maker.
Vietnam’s President Nguyen Minh Triet once told President George Bush during his U.S. visit last summer that the Vietnamese laws could not be 100 percent similar to American laws as the two countries have different histories. Other Vietnamese leaders have reiterated in various occasions that the country’s legislations ensure citizens’ rights and only law violators were prosecuted.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Dung said on September 19 that “Vietnam strongly protests the Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2007 which contains fabricated information on the situation in Vietnam and affects the current positive development of the Vietnam-US relationship.”
The spokesman went on to say that, over the past many decades, the Vietnamese people has pursued with its struggles to gain independence, freedom and democratic rights. The Vietnam Constitution clearly stipulates that the State respects and ensures its citizens’ economic, political, cultural, social and civil rights, including the rights to freedom of religion, speech, the press, information, meetings and forming of associations.
After 20 years of renewal, Vietnam has recorded huge achievements in economic development, executed social justice, brought into play democracy, improved the living standards and ensured the rights and freedom of its citizens. This progress has been recognised by the international community.
Vietnam has been and will be ready for dialogue with the U.S. on a number of issues, including democracy, human rights and religious issues. The U.S. Representatives should have acknowledged democracy and human rights issues in Vietnam objectively and within the country’s historical context while respecting Vietnam’s economic, cultural and social particulars in the spirit of cooperation and mutual understanding, without letting these issues hinder the fine development of the two countries’ relationship.
It was a pity that the U.S. House of Representatives has ignored what have been taking place in Vietnam, intentionally politicising civil misconduct to give pressure on a nation that is trying to stand on its feet and supporting a group of extremists to alter the path that a nation has chosen.
The only obvious question now is: did those congressmen who voted for the bill act responsibly to strengthen the ever increasing and close relations between the two countries? Will the intervention into another country’s internal affairs gain any support when scandals at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons have been still making the public, in the American soil and the world over, thwarted.