(Garden Grove, CA) Following reports that President Donald Trump has extended an invitation for Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to visit the United States, California State Senator Janet Nguyen has appealed to President Trump to ensure that human rights are at the forefront of any discussion. President Trump reportedly invited Prime Minister Phuc via a formal letter delivered by U.S. National Security Advisor H.R.McMaster to Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh last Friday April 21, 2017.
“In his capacity as a national leader, Prime Minister Phuc is a key member of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a nation that has devoted great efforts to repress and violate the very freedoms on which the United States is founded,” said Senator Janet Nguyen. “Regrettably, during the last 42 years, Vietnam has not shown any real progress towards establishing a fair human rights record that is worthy of a partnership with the United States.”
As part of her appeal to call on President Trump to address human rights in Vietnam, Senator Nguyen cited the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) annual report which was released on April 26, 2017 and which found that “the Vietnamese government continues to crack down on anyone challenging its authority, including lawyers, bloggers, activists, civil society, and religious organizations” and as a result, “Vietnam merits designation as a ‘country of particular concern’ or CPC.” Vietnam has been given this designation by the USCIRF since 2002.
To further illustrate Vietnam’s human rights violations, Senator Nguyen cited the case of Vietnamese activist Vuong Van Tha and his family of 9 who are currently being harassed by the Vietnamese Government for his efforts to expose the regime’s crimes on Facebook and YouTube.
According to reports, since April 16th, Mr. Tha and his family have had their water, power and food supplies cut off, and the local police have surrounded his home, which has been severely vandalized by police disguised as civilians. Sadly, Mr. Tha and his family have very few options left and have announced that they will set themselves on fire if the police break into the home to arrest Mr. Tha.
According to Senator Nguyen, cases like this are demonstrative of Vietnam’s pattern of abuse and merit President Trump’s attention in the event that Prime Minister Phuc accepts the invitation.
“As you meet with Vietnamese government officials like Prime Minister Phuc in the months and years to come you will have the opportunity to discuss a plethora of policies among them these important human rights issues,” said Senator Janet Nguyen. “I hope that you will seize these critical opportunities to emphasize that the United States will not strengthen relationships with any nation that denies its citizens their basic human rights and that furthermore, any agreement with the United States must also carry with it basic human rights protections for the people of Vietnam.”
According to media reports, Prime Minister Phuc has expressed an interest in visiting the United States and will likely accept President Trump’s invitation. President Trump is also scheduled to attend the Asia Pacific Cooperation Summit in Vietnam in November 2017.