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Statement by Vo Van Ai to the Press Conference in US Congress: Vietnamese human rights defenders share concern on Secretary Clinton’s demotion of China Human Rights
2009-02-26 | Vo Van Ai | Vietnam Committee
PARIS, 26 February 2009 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHT/QUE ME) - Mr. Vo Van Ai, President of Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam, submitted the following statement to a Press Conference at the US Congress today (Venue: Canon House Office Building Terrace, Washington D.C. at 11a.m., 26th February 2009).
I express my solidarity with Chinese dissident leaders Wei Jingsheng, Harry Wu, Bob Fu, Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer and Sharon Hom at this Press Conference today on the theme: “Alarm sets in over Secretary Clinton’s abandonment of China Human Rights”. I also applaud Congressmen Chris Smith, Frank Wolf, Mike Pence and Joe Pitts for ensuring that these essential voices for human rights in China may be heard at the US Congress at this decisive point in US-China relations.
Human rights defenders, pro-democracy activists, religious and political dissidents in Vietnam share your concern on the recent remarks made by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton during her trip to China, when she said that the US would continue to press China on issues such as Tibet, Taiwan and human rights, but “our pressure on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis”.
Secretary Clinton’s position casts a chilling cloak over the hopes raised by President Obama’s pledge in his inaugural address of the US’s support for “every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity”. Ordinary men and women in Tibet, Xinjiang, China, Vietnam, Burma, Laos and North Korea are seeking such a future, and striving to win it through peaceful means. Yet in response, they suffer detention, torture, violence and discrimination.
We know that foreign aid, trade and relations are complex. No one denies the immediate threats posed by the economic, environmental and security crisis that shakes today’s world. But foreign policy should and must be comprehensive. By separating human rights from these issues, Secretary Clinton is downgrading human rights and shattering the hopes and aspirations of all those suffering under Chinese rule.
Moreover, Secretary Clinton’s remarks have grave implications for human rights activists in Vietnam. Hanoi’s regime is a vassal of Beijing. After two millennia of Chinese over-lordship and 60 years of amity-enmity under Communist rule, Hanoi’s leaders still ape the policies of its northern neighbor. They share China’s concept of “non-interference” on human rights, and are delighted when Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi throws out this concept in response to Secretary Clinton’s words. Indeed, if the US downgrades human rights in China, it gives Hanoi’s rulers a free hand to violate its citizens rights in Vietnam.
In Vietnam today, all dissident voices are repressed. In a recent crack-down on peaceful demonstrations, scores of cyber-dissidents, journalists, labour activists and religious leaders were arrested. Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do, leader of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and a 2009 Nobel Peace prize nominee, is in his 27th year of detention simply for peacefully advocacy of human rights, democracy and religious freedom.
Today, I join with you in urging the US Administration to maintain pressure for human rights progress as an essential part of its foreign policy, and I call upon all Asian human rights defenders to stand together in the peaceful movement for freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Asia.
Vo Van Ai
President, Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam
Paris, 26 February 2009