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12 members of Congress send letter over concern for Vietnamese activist Pham Doan Trang

Today, Representatives Lou Correa (CA-46) and Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), joined by 10 of their colleagues, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing their grave concern with the arrest of Vietnamese activist Pham Doan Trang by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. In the letter, Members urged Secretary Pompeo to commit to defending American values and push for the immediate release of Pham Doan Trang.

In the letter, Members said, “We write to express our grave concerns with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s arrest of Pham Doan Trang, a prominent blogger, and author who is a fervent activist and a champion of democracy.

“Pham Doan Trang violated no law and only exercised her basic freedoms and fundamental rights guaranteed in Vietnam’s Constitution. We firmly believe that she must be immediately and unconditionally released. We request that you urge the government of Vietnam to stop the crackdown on peaceful dissidents and to include the release of Pham Doan Trang during any bilateral meetings with the Vietnamese authorities.”

Congressman Correa added, “Ms. Pham Doan Trang arrest represents a grave injustice and must be immediately rectified. Ms. Pham’s work to bring democracy to Vietnam is an inspiration for anyone yearning to be free. She has violated no law and has been jailed for exercised her fundamental human rights. We must not only fight for her freedom but the freedom and democracy for all of Vietnam.”

Congressman Lowenthal said, “Pham Doan Trang is a democracy and human rights activist who should be celebrated for her service and love for her country. Instead, the Vietnamese government has repeatedly targeted her for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression. This latest arrest is shameful, and she must be immediately and unconditionally released. Ms. Trang is an internationally recognized author who has inspired countless activists. For this, she has been persecuted and tortured because the government of Vietnam is afraid of the next generation of young Vietnamese activists and leaders. I stand in support of this brave and selfless activist. I also support her call for Vietnam to enact new legislation to reform the National Assembly election.”

Background on Pham Doan Trong

Pham Doan Trang, a prominent blogger, author, and fervent pro-democracy activist, was arrested on October 6, 2020, by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for reporting and sharing information about a violent clash within the Dong Tam commune. Pham Doan Trang was also targeted for calling for reforms to Vietnam’s National Assembly election process.

In addition to Congressmen Lou Correa and Alan Lowenthal, the letter was signed by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Deb Haaland, James P. McGovern, Barbara Lee, Juan Vargas, David N. Cicilline, Ro Khanna, Steve Cohen, Harley Rouda, and Katie Porter.

Additionally, both Amnesty International and Freedom House have endorsed the letter and joined in calling for the immediate release of Pham Doan Trang.

Text of the letter

October 16, 2020

The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Secretary
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

We write to express our grave concerns with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s arrest of Pham Doan Trang, a prominent blogger, and author who is a fervent activist and a champion of democracy.

Ms. Pham was arrested on October 6, 2020, only hours after the US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue, for reporting and sharing information about a violent clash within the Dong Tam commune. She was also targeted for her call on Vietnam to enact new laws governing the election of the country’s National Assembly.

Her arrest is only the latest act of repression by the Vietnamese government. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison, is currently at great risk of torture and ill-treatment while in custody. Each and every day she spends imprisoned is a grave injustice and violates Vietnam’s international human rights commitments.

Vietnam is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and has committed to respecting individual freedom of belief, speech, association, press, and the right to assembly and political expression. The government of Vietnam has also claimed that they will uphold the rule of law, due process, and protect the rights of its citizens.

Pham Doan Trang violated no law and only exercised her basic freedoms and fundamental rights guaranteed in Vietnam’s Constitution. We firmly believe that she must be immediately and unconditionally released. We request that you urge the government of Vietnam to stop the crackdown on peaceful dissidents and to include the release of Pham Doan Trang during any bilateral meetings with the Vietnamese authorities. Lastly, we request that the Department of State briefs Congress on the situation at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to a timely response.

The article above was released by Congressman Lou Correa (CA-46).

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