Washington D.C., Aug 19, 2010 / 01:10 am America/Denver (CNA).
At an August 18 hearing in Washington D.C., Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) condemned the human rights violations of Catholics in Vietnam, calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “postpone indefinitely taking U.S.-Vietnam relations to the 'next level' until the Government of Vietnam can prove that they too are concerned about and willing to stop rampant abuse in their country.”
A press release announcing the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Hearing on Aug. 18 noted that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2010 Annual Report recommended that the State Department re-title Vietnam as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) on account of the Vietnamese government’s repression of religious activities.
Rep. Smith opened his remarks on Wednesday by thanking those in attendance for joining the “emergency session to voice our collective concern for the brutal murders and systematic mistreatment of Catholics in Con Dau.”
“This past Sunday, August 15, 2010, marked the 80th anniversary of the founding of Con Dau, a Catholic village in the Diocese of Da Nang, Central Vietnam,” he explained. “What should have been a joyous occasion has been marred by unspeakable violence.”
“A few months ago during a religious funeral procession, Vietnamese authorities and riot police disrupted that sad and solemn occasion, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, beating mourners with batons and electric rods,” the congressman said. “More than 100 were injured, dozens were arrested, and several remain in custody and have reportedly been severely beaten and tortured. At least two innocent people have been murdered by the Vietnamese police.”