JUNE 19, 2008: In advance of the expected visit to the US this month of Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, the bipartisan House Vietnam Caucus, along with several Vietnamese community leaders, held a “need to reform” press conference June 19 to highlight human rights abuses in Vietnam.
Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, executive director of Boat People SOS, took part in the press conference to raise issues of Vietnam’s trafficking in human beings, including the case of the strikers in Jordan.
The members called on President Bush to make human rights a focal point of the agenda in the meetings with Vietnam’s Prime Minister. “Massive human rights violations perpetrated by the Government of Vietnam will not be forgotten, overlooked or trivialized. We will continue to highlight these abuses—which are ongoing today—in an attempt to offer encouragement, solidarity and hope to the victims and pressure the government to reform,” said Vietnam Caucus Co-Chair Chris Smith (R-NJ).
The press conference also focused on Vietnam’s horrendous record of human trafficking. In the most recent Trafficking in Persons Report released by the State Department earlier this month, Vietnam is designated as a “Tier 2” country of concern and a primary source country for women and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. “Vietnam has an egregious record of abuse, both in sex and labor trafficking and they do little to protect the victim or prosecute the criminal,” said Representative Smith.