WASHINGTON – Panels of human rights experts and Vietnamese witnesses reported numerous cases of harassments and unjust arrests by the communist government on Thursday as they urged for greater U.S. pressure on Vietnam to improve its human rights record.
Reports from human rights and religious freedom experts as well as a moving personal testimony from the wife of a detained U.S. citizen took place at the Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC) briefing, "Human Rights in Vietnam Today," on Capitol Hill.
Jane Tien Dobui shared her personal tragedy of her husband’s arrest one month earlier in Vietnam while on vacation. Her husband, Cong Thanh Do, an American citizen and human rights and pro-democracy activists, was accused of being a terrorist with plans to attack the U.S. General Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. Dobui recounted his arrests through tears and said she has no information on Cong, not knowing "even if he is still alive."
Other cases of arrests of pro-democracy Vietnamese include Mr. Tran Dinh who was arrested on Sept. 4 for being a member of the democracy movement Bloc 8406, which issued the "2006 Manifesto for Freedom and Democracy in Vietnam," according to the statement by Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Bich, a board of directors member of the National Congress of Vietnamese Americans. The Manifesto was posted online and signed by 118 citizens. Pastor Ngo Hoai No, another Bloc 8406 member was arrested on Sept. 5 but released a day later.
Dr. Chan Dang-Vu, representative for North America, Vietnam Reform Party (Viet Tan), reported the cases of Truong Quoc Huy and his brother Truong Quoc Tuan who were arrested for participating in a pro-democracy chat room. He said that the whereabouts of Truong Quoc Huy is still unknown while Truong Quoc Tuan is under house arrest.
Others, like Vu Hoang Hai, have been beaten severely for their support of the Democracy Manifesto or ideas of a multi-party state government.
Panel members expressed hope that President Bush in his upcoming visit to Hanoi in November for the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit will press the Vietnamese government to improve human rights and religious freedom within its country.
In the conclusion of her speech, Dobui said, "My little boy has a dream about his daddy."
"He said that he [wished] his daddy would pick him up from school and give me a hug," she said of her 9-year-old son. "So please help my children bring their daddy home. Help my little boy to have his dream come dream. Please help my husband and the father of my children, a human rights activists and human rights activists, please give him back the ability to talk and speak his mind for what he believes in and what all of us here believe in – democracy and freedom."