Patrick Ventrell – Acting Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC – April 15, 2013
VIETNAM: Human Rights Dialogue / Activists Prevented from Meeting DAS Baer
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: You had a statement last week about the U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue that took place in Hanoi on Friday. Apparently, two people who were invited to that meeting were prevented from attending, Pham Hong Son and Nguyen Van Dai. Are you aware of that, and have you raised that issue with the Vietnamese Government?
MR. VENTRELL: We are aware, and we have. Just to give you a little context, as you mentioned, the U.S. and Vietnam held a candid and constructive human rights dialogue on April 12th. The April 12th dialogue with Vietnam covered a number of issues, including religious freedom, rule of law, prisoners of concern, labor rights, and freedom of expression.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Dan Baer was able to meet with Father Ly in prison, but we are troubled that Vietnamese authorities reportedly prevented activists Nguyen Van Dai and Pham Hong Son from meeting with DAS Bear as planned. So this really underscores the need for Vietnam to make continued progress to comply with its international human rights obligations and commitments.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) subsequently on the part of the U.S. Embassy, for example?
MR. VENTRELL: I believe our Embassy has been in touch with these individuals, but this particular meeting was blocked. But I’d have to check if they’re regular interlocutors of our Embassy.
US upset Vietnam dissidents blocked from meeting
WASHINGTON – The United States voiced concern on Monday after Vietnamese authorities prevented two activists from meeting a US official who was visiting Hanoi for talks on human rights.
US officials said that they had invited pro-democracy campaigner Pham Hong Son and human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, who both spent time previously in prison, to take part in talks Friday with State Department official Dan Baer.
“We are troubled that Vietnamese authorities reportedly prevented activists Nguyen Van Dai and Pham Hong Son from meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer as planned,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters.
Ventrell said, however, that Baer was able to meet in prison with one of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents, the outspoken Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly.
Baer, who focuses on human rights, held talks with Vietnamese officials in Hanoi on Friday as part of an annual dialogue between the two countries on the communist nation’s human rights.
Ventrell said that the two countries had “candid and constructive” talks on issues including freedom of religion, freedom of expression and prisoners, although US officials did not report any concrete outcomes.
Relations between the former war adversaries have warmed rapidly since they normalized diplomatic ties in 1995, but the United States has said that Vietnam must improve its treatment of its citizens if it wants greater cooperation.
Critics in the US Congress and activist groups say that the frequent US calls over human rights have failed to produce change from Vietnam.
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