OC Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez has a personal message today for President Barack Obama: Confront the Vietnamese prime minister over human rights violations in Vietnam. Yesterday, Sanchez announced that Vietnam had recently denied her entry into the country. She had hoped to visit with Vietnamese who claim the government is excessively authoritarian. In particular, she has cited government Internet censorship and religious practice prohibitions.
In today's move, the California Democrat who co-chairs the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam and serves on the House Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Obama and asked him to confront Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who is in Washington, D.C. for the Global Nuclear Security Summit.
"More than anything, Vietnam wants the respect and recognition of the international community," wrote Sanchez. "But in order to earn that respect, Vietnam needs to show it is willing to expand basic human rights. As leader of the free world, it is important for the president to take a stand against the abuses taking place in Vietnam and elsewhere. Freedom and democracy only have meaning if we're willing to put those principles into action, and President Obama is in an excellent position to do so today."
According to Sanchez, Vietnam should be penalized for its human rights abuses--including jailing democracy rights advocates in the country--by having the U.S. State Department place it back on the "Countries of Particular Concern" list.
Vietnamese officials say their country has made tremendous, positive strides over the years.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly