(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – A representative from Amnesty International has visited Vietnam to open up channels for dialogue with the government on the human rights situation in the country. The visit was the first made by the organization since the late 1970s.
"We were pleased to accept the invitation from Vietnam's authorities to visit the country to discuss Amnesty International's work and approaches, which includes engaging with governments all over the world," said Frank Jannuzi, Amnesty International USA's deputy executive director, who spent six days in the Southeast Asian country. "We also used the opportunity to raise our concerns about the human rights situation in Vietnam, including the severe restrictions on the right to freedom of expression."
Over the past two years, the Vietnamese authorities have locked up dozens of human rights defenders, including bloggers, songwriters, lawyers, labor activists, members of religious groups, democracy activists and others, even as the government bids for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council for the term 2014-2016.
Amnesty International visited Vietnam's capital Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in the south of the country, meeting with officials responsible for human rights, foreign affairs, public security, labor rights issues and religious affairs.
Amnesty International held private meetings with foreign diplomats in Hanoi and met with academics, some religious leaders and former prisoners of conscience, Pham Hong Son and Nguyen Van Dai.
"This visit provided a preliminary opportunity to discuss our work and concerns with Vietnam's government," said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International's deputy Asia-Pacific director, who oversees the organization's work on Vietnam. "We very much hope that Amnesty International representatives will be allowed to make further visits to the country this year, and we will have ongoing constructive dialogue with the government on human rights in Vietnam."
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.