Vietnam: Tortue and Abuse of Political and Religious Prisoners, “Campaign to Abolish Torture in Vietnam, January 2014.” — Excerpt From Congressman Chris Smith’s Report
The Vietnamese government continues to be an egregious violator of a broad array of human rights and is estimated to hold about 600 prisoners of conscience, including prominent faith leaders such as Father Ly and the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do. One of the points that is repeatedly raised in the hearings that I have held on human rights in Vietnam is that the authorities routinely torture people who are arrested for peacefully exercising their rights. The people of courage who should be celebrated for trying to help their country are instead imprisoned and further victimized by being tortured.
In the last hearing that I held on human rights in Vietnam, we heard a first-hand account of torture from the Venerable Danh Tol, a Khmer Krom Buddhist monk, who is with us here today. leaders of religious organizations are not the only ones victimized by the vietnamese government; individuals and small communities are also targeted by the regime. One of our witnesses at the hearing I held last April spoke of the brutality that he experienced as a member of the Con Dau parish that was violently repressed in 2010 when they tried to have a funeral procession. We have another of the parishioners from Con Dau who was tortured with us today, Nguyen Lieu. Innocent people were killed by vietnamese police at Con Dau and unspeakable torture was carried against many of those who were detained.
In what some view as a promising step, the Vietnamese government ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture on November 7, 2013. however, we cannot let the Vietnam[government] escape scrutiny simply because they have signed a convention. I have seen over and over that when a dictatorship is carrying out pervasive torture or some other abuse, they often talk about signing a UN convention. Unfortunately, this can distract and cause some of the observers to overlook what is happening on the ground.
Despite the dismal status of human rights in Vietnam, we can exert pressure on the Vietnamese government to cease the abuses. The Vietnam Human Rights Act passed the House last year, and swift action in the Senate will send a strong message that the united states will not tolerate continuing human rights abuses in Vietnam.