Clinton Shows Strength on Human Rights in Vietnam
Freedom House is encouraged that Secretary of State Clinton today raised concerns about human rights with Vietnamese officials in Hanoi, and hopes that the Obama administration will continue to follow through on its promise to make the protection of human rights a fundamental piece of its foreign policy agenda.
After a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, Clinton told journalists that among other topics, “good governance, human rights, humanitarian and security issues” were discussed. In particular, Clinton expressed concern about restrictions on internet freedom, attacks on religious groups and the arrest and imprisonment of people for peaceful dissent. Mrs. Clinton is in Hanoi as part of a two-day trip that included meetings with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministers ahead of the ASEAN Regional Forum this week.
“Freedom House is pleased that Secretary Clinton did not shy away from addressing these issues with the Vietnamese government, despite U.S. intentions to deepen its economic ties with the country,” said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House. “It is critical that democratic governments, including the United States, do not allow economic reforms and other strategic priorities to draw attention away from the importance of protecting fundamental freedoms.”
Vietnam received a downward trend arrow in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House’s annual global analysis of political rights and civil liberties covering developments in calendar year 2009, due to a serious tightening of space for civil society to comment on and criticize the government, including the banning of private think tanks and arrests of prominent reform advocates. Over the last year, there has also been an upsurge in arrests of bloggers, worsening internet censorship and an increase in sophisticated cyber attacks on NGOs and human rights defenders.
Vietnam is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
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