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munity for initiating a memorial to American and South Vietnamese soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom during the Vietnam War, which is under development and will be located in

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Westminster, California.

April 12, 2000 (11:04 AM)

Opening Statement

Mark-up of H.Con.Res. 295

by
The Honorable Doug Bereuter
Chairman, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific

House International Relations Committee

This resolution was introduced on March 20, by the gentleman from California, Mr. Rohrabacher, to express concern about continuing human rights violations and political repression in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Indeed, in the 25 years since the end of the war, there has been no discernible progress towards representative government or basic democratic freedoms in Vietnam. The Vietnamese Constitution actually enshrines the principle of one party Communist rule. Political dissidents are routinely harassed or arrested for attempting to exercise their fundamental human rights such as freedom of speech and association.

The Vietnamese government also continues to restrict unregistered religious activities and to persecute citizens on the basis of their religious affiliations. Vietnam can be said to be an equal opportunity oppressor of religious freedoms, as Buddhists, Christians, and other groups such as the Hoa Ha, all suffer to some extent from goverment harassment and repression. The government has also refused to allow human rights groups and the UN special rapporteur on Religious Intolerance unfettered access to investigate allegations of religious oppression.

This resolution urges the government of Vietnam to release religious and political prisoners and cease harassment of those exercising their legitimate rights, to allow basic dermocratic freedoms such as freedom of speech and association, and to commit to a framework and timetable for open and fair elections. It is time that the Vietnamese government realized that one party Communist regimes have no place in the modern world. It is time that the long suffering people of Vietnam enjoyed their rights to fundamental religious and political freedoms.

I now turn to the Subcommittee's ranking minority member, the distinguished gentleman from California, Mr. Lantos, for any comments he may wish to make.

Statement by Congressman Dana Robrabacher

H. Con. Res. 295
Human Rights Violations in Vietnam 25 After the End of the War

April 12, 2000

Mr. Chairman:

I would like to thank Mr. Bereuter, himself a Vietnam-era veteran, and ranking Member Mr. Lantos, for expediting a mark-up of this resolution as we approach the 25th anniversary of the fall of end of the Vietnam War. The amendment calls attention to ongoing human rights violations and the need for democracy for the people of Vietnam.

During the Indochina Conflict, some 58,000 Americans perished and more than 300,000 were wounded in defense of freedom for the people of Vietnam and the Asia Pacific region. In addition, some 270,350 South Vietnamese military personnel perished and 570,600 were wounded before the 1975 Final Offensive by communist forces.

This resolution honors their sacrifices by calling attention to the cause of freedom in Vietnam. The intent of this resolution is entirely in support of the people of Vietnam who deserve the opportunity to participate in a democratic process in a democratic society.

The greatest example of the potential in Vietnam is to see the tremendous educational and economic success of the Vietnamese-American community, such as in the Little Saigon area of my California District. Most of these families arrived in the United States with little more than the shirts on their back. The decisive difference between their success and the poverty and underdevelopment in their homeland is democracy and freedom. We wish that for all people of Vietnam.

In addition, this resolution congratulates the Vietnamese-American community for initiating and funding through private donations the first memorial to honor both American and South Vietnamese military personnel who sacrificed their lives during the war, which is being developed in Orange County, California.

The findings of this resolution are consistent with the State Department's annual Human Rights Reports of 1999 and 2000. It requests that our Government makes clear to the Government of Vietnam America's the need for political, religious and economic freedom for the Vietnamese people.

The resolution also urges the Victnamese regime to commit to a framework and set a timetable for open and fair elections. Twenty-five years after the end of the war, it is finally time for the Vietnamese leaders to make peace with their own people, and to permit their citizens to

peacefully choose their own local and national leaders, without fear or intimidation.

I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bi-partisan resolution which honors the sacrifice of American citizen-soldiers who perished for the cause of freedom during the Indochina conflict by supporting the struggle for democracy in Vietnam.

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