Royce Expresses Support for Vietnam Human Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed H.R.1410, the Vietnam Human Rights Act, by voice vote. As an original cosponsor of the bill, Royce expressed his strong support for the legislation, and the need for human rights reform in Vietnam.

The legislation prohibits increases in the provision of non-humanitarian assistance to the government of Vietnam unless the President certifies that Hanoi has made substantial progress regarding the release of political and religious prisoners.

"Sadly, Hanoi continues its war on religious freedom and human rights... just as it has been doing for decades. However, Vietnamese officials today have brought their harassment of religious leaders, political dissidents, and student activists to new, draconian levels," said Royce.

Royce, who authored legislation that expanded Radio Free Asia's (RFA) broadcasts in this critical region of the world, praised the legislation's provisions designed to bolster RFA's impact on Vietnam. U.S.-backed Radio Free Asia is a "surrogate" broadcasting service, acting as a free press for Vietnam.

"With this legislation, Radio Free Asia will now be better able to bring objective news – the truth – to the Vietnamese people. The spread of democratic values in Asia is critical to U.S. security interests.

"It is important to note that Vietnam has recently ratcheted up its efforts to block radio broadcasts from Radio Free Asia. This tells me that not only are these broadcasts having a positive effect in combating state propaganda, but Hanoi is feeling increased political pressure," said Royce.

Royce, who was condemned by the Communist government in Hanoi when he secretly met with Thich Quang Do and Le Quang Liem, also spoke of the encouragement that the Vietnam Human Rights Act will give dissidents inside Vietnam:

"The Vietnam Human Rights Act is an inspiration to the brave dissidents inside Vietnam who continue to be brutally repressed by Hanoi. The United States must continue to speak out, as the Foreign Affairs Committee has done today. Silence is not an option," said Royce.

Rep. Ed Royce is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. He is co-chair of the Congressional Vietnam Caucus.