House Decries Vietnam's Growing Abuse (Rep. Ed Royce)

The passage of the Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2007 is nothing short of a victory for democracy in Southeast Asia.

Since early this year, human rights abuses in Vietnam have intensified.  The organization Human Rights Watch characterized the ongoing situation in Vietnam as one of the worst crackdowns on peaceful dissidents in 20 years.  Vietnamese officials have brought their harassment of religious leaders, political dissidents, and student activists to new, draconian levels.

The Vietnam Human Rights Act is an inspiration to the brave dissidents inside Vietnam who continue to be brutally repressed by Hanoi.  I've been denounced by the Vietnamese government for simply meeting with those whose only wish is the freedom to speak their minds.  That tells me the Vietnamese government is sensitive to international criticism, and that the United States must continue to speak out, as the House has done today.  Silence is not an option.

The legislation prohibits increases in U.S. nonhumanitarian assistance to the government of Vietnam unless the president certifies that Hanoi has made substantial progress respecting the release of political and religious prisoners.  It also provides $2 million for non-governmental organizations to provide humanitarian assistance, and over $10 million for combating efforts to jam Radio Free Asia.

With this legislation, Radio Free Asia will now be better able to bring objective news -- the truth -- to the Vietnamese people. The spread of democratic values in Asia is critical to U.S. security interests.  It is important to note that Vietnam has recently ratcheted up its efforts to block radio broadcasts from Radio Free Asia.  This tells me that not only are these broadcasts having a positive effect in combating state propaganda, but Hanoi is feeling increased political pressure.  This bill provides the means to overcome radio jamming and the funds for continued broadcasts.