Thursday, June 13, 2013

To build strategic trust, Vietnam should release Cu Huy Ha Vu

The Honorable Joseph Y. Yun
Acting Assistant Secretary of State
Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Department of State

Re: As a step toward building strategic trust, Vietnamese Americans respectfully suggest the U.S. State Department to request Vietnam to free political dissident Cu Huy Ha Vu.

Dear Mr. Yun,

It was with distinct honor that on June 5, we had the opportunity to receive your keynote address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies regarding the tensions in the South China Sea, following with your testimony before the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on the same day, regarding the United States and Vietnam relations.

As Vietnamese Americans, we deeply appreciated your expertise, knowledge and experience as you illuminated the fast growing relationship between the United States and Vietnam.  In the testimony on June 5, you discussed the Trans-Pacific-Partnership as the centerpiece of our strategic U.S.–Vietnam relations. Your language gave hope to Vietnamese Americans regarding our key concerns on human rights:

I would like to emphasize that our concern for human rights factors into all aspects of our policy approach and engagement with Vietnam. We believe that greater respect for human rights on the part of the Government of Vietnam would help ensure that country’s future economic, social, and political development and allow us to strengthen our bilateral relationship. We have underscored with the Vietnamese leadership that the American people will not support a dramatic upgrading of our bilateral ties without demonstrable progress on human rights.[1]
It was very fortunate, that on May 31, at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung strongly emphasized the necessity of building strategic trust by concrete steps, in alignment with the high expectations set forth by ASEAN and the international community.[2]

We therefore would like to support Vietnam in taking a decisive step moving forward with this very important confidence building measure: promoting freedom of speech as the true value of a free market, a key standard of the Trans-Pacific-Partnership binding agreements.

As highlighted by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, this is the time for Vietnam to lead the first step in building strategic trust, to foster confidence, to cooperate in building peace and prosperity.

It is from this common ground that we respectfully request your attention in the case of Vietnamese law scholar Cu Huy Ha Vu, who has been imprisoned since April 2011 simply for exercising his freedom of speech.[3]

The case of Cu Huy Ha Vu has raised widespread international concern, as evidenced by statements including those from the U.S. Department of State[4] and from Senator Jim Webb, then the Chair of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific. 

On August 3, 2011, in Geneva, over 178 human rights organizations throughout the world issued a joint statement under the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), expressing their deep concern regarding the decision of the government of Vietnam to uphold the seven-year jail term of Mr. Cu Huy Ha Vu.[5]

Due to severely oppressive treatment, Mr. Cu Huy Ha Vu has maintained a hunger strike since May 27, leading to a very poor state of health at this time. His wife, Mrs. Ha Duong Nguyen, has written a letter requesting help. Please find attached the letter written by Mrs. Ha Duong Nguyen.

As Vietnamese Americans, we come to you, our Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, with faith and hope that you will intervene and rescue Mr. Cu Huy Ha Vu at this very urgent moment. Only by releasing lawyer Cu Huy Ha Vu, and taking similar actions with other dissidents, Vietnam then may be considered as sincerely committing to honor the standards set forth for TPP members.

We strongly suggest that the US State Department upholds the TPP standards as listed by you in the testimony on June 5. It would be best to recite the conclusion you presented before the House Committee of Foreign Affairs:

We urge Vietnam’s leaders to provide an environment in which Vietnamese from all walks of life can peacefully and freely express their political views and have them taken into account. [6]

Vietnamese Americans welcome Vietnam to join the Trans-Pacific- Partnership, and we
would do our best to support Vietnam in building a strategic trust with the US, ASEAN,
and all other nations, to promote cooperation, peace, and prosperity in the region and

Vietnamese Americans thank you for your stellar leadership at this very challenging time of our nation, and wish you all the best.

Very Truly Yours,
Genie Nguyen
President, Voice of Vietnamese Americans

[1] Testimony of Joseph Y. Yun, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Department of State, U.S. Relations with Vietnam, June 5, 2013 - House Committee on Foreign Affairs
[2] Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung – Keynote Speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue –Singapore: May 31, 2013
[6] Testimony of Joseph Y. Yun, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Department of State, U.S. Relations with Vietnam, June 5, 2013 - House Committee on Foreign Affairs

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