Washington, D.C. – Today, at a bipartisan press conference on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged President Obama to press Vietnam’s President Sang on his country’s human rights abuses during a White House meeting this Thursday.  Chairman Royce recounted his numerous meetings with peaceful Vietnamese dissidents who have been denied basic human rights by the government of Vietnam.

Chairman Royce said at the press conference:  “In Vietnam, the government continues to round up any one who continues to speak the word “democracy” or speak the words “human rights.”  In the first six weeks of this year, we’ve had 40 show trials of young dissidents who have been convicted with very, very long prison terms.  But it is not just the show trials that are troubling to the international community; it is also the beatings that go with these arrests…  Let’s put Vietnam on a course towards progress with respect to human rights…It is past time for us to make these demands.”

In anticipation of the Obama-Sang meeting, Chairman Royce sent a letter to President Obama citing troubling statistics that reflect an increase in human rights abuses in Vietnam.  Royce’s letter concluded, “Mr. President, President Sang’s visit to Washington is a unique opportunity to inspire the Vietnamese people who are yearning for freedom. I respectfully request that you make the most of this chance by vocally supporting a human rights agenda.”

Royce was joined by other Members of Congress, representatives from various human rights organizations, and Vietnamese-American community leaders.

Video of Chairman Royce’s remarks at the press conference is available HERE:

A high-resolution photo is available HERE.

Note: Chairman Royce is the author of H.Res. 218, legislation that calls on the State Department to re-list Vietnam as a “Country of Particular Concern” for its gross religious freedom violations.  Royce is also the lead cosponsor of the Vietnam Human Rights Act.