Effort to dump ambassador to Vietnam over human rights gains steam

Shear was sworn in as ambassador in August 2011 after serving since 2009 as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State. His nomination was held up temporarily by Sens. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) over concerns that Vietnamese children in the process of getting adopted by U.S. citizens were being left in limbo.

The full text of the letter is below:


The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

2201 C St NW Ste 7276

Washington D.C. 20520


Dear Secretary Clinton:

We strongly believe that human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam need to be at the forefront of bilateral relations with Vietnam, including any discussion about a strategic partnership with the United States.  While we were pleased to hear that you mentioned democracy activists, lawyers and bloggers on your recent trip to Vietnam, we were deeply disappointed that there was no public mention of imprisoned Vietnamese-American Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan.  In fact, in a letter sent earlier this month prior to your trip, several members of Congress urged you to raise the matter of his continued detention and press for his release. 

We do not believe that this administration, especially Ambassador David Shear, have sufficiently advocated for basic human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam.   In fact, Ambassador Shear has sidelined these issues which has been a cause for concern.  The people of Vietnam yearn for American leadership in this realm – leadership which Ambassador Shear has been simply unable or unwilling to provide.  As such, we urge you to dismiss Ambassador Shear from his post, and move swiftly to appoint an individual who will embrace the struggle of the Vietnamese people and advocate on their behalf.

Unfortunately, the outstanding congressional request for the list of invitees to the Embassy Hanoi’s July 4th celebration remains unfulfilled.  As such, we also urge you to make sure that the list is provided in a timely fashion so that we are able to see which religious freedom and democracy activists were invited, if any. 

We wish to see a mutually beneficial relationship with Vietnam.  In order for this to happen, we must have confidence in this administration’s efforts to promote religious freedom and democracy in Vietnam.  We have lost confidence that Ambassador Shear is up to the task.                                                                                               

Sincerely,


Frank Wolf

Dan Lungren

Joseph Pitts

Chris Smith