Governor Dean on Vietnam's Human Rights Abuses
Milwaukee, WI, February 06, 2004
“The United States has a special role to play in world affairs as a historic inspiration to those around the world seeking democracy, freedom, and opportunity. Our own fight for independence, democracy, and human rights has allowed us to act as a moral force in world affairs and a guiding light for other nations.
“I am deeply concerned by reports of Vietnam's human rights abuses. Montagnards, Hmong and other highland peoples have been special targets for such abuse and repression. Given the incredible loyalty and bravery displayed by these peoples during the Vietnam War, it is especially shameful that the Administration has not raised its voice in protest. Unfortunately, the abuse doesn't stop there; Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have documented the harassment and arrest of leaders of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Catholic priests, reporters, and others who merely practice their faith or peacefully express their opinion.
“It is time for America to take a stand for human rights in Vietnam. We cannot remain silent any longer and must exert our economic and moral influence to insist that the Communist regime in Vietnam respect the human rights of its people. Our President should not meet with the Vietnamese government without, first, demanding protection of human rights.
“As President, I will
* Break the official silence observed by the Bush Administration on human rights in Vietnam.
* Use America's leverage to persuade the Vietnamese government to improve its human rights record.
* Utilize every point of contact with the Vietnamese government to stress the importance we attach to the principles of democracy and human rights.
* Enforce the Jackson-Vanik rule to persuade Vietnam to take immediate steps to respect the human rights of its people and allow them to emigrate if they so desire.
* Open our doors to stateless Vietnamese refugees languishing in the Philippines and other parts of the world.
* Work to pass legislation granting immediate American citizenship to Amerasians who should be treated no differently than other sons and daughters of American fathers.”