Cornyn: We Can’t Ignore Vietnamese Human Rights
Yesterday on the floor, I discussed my outreach to Texas’ Vietnamese community, my recent visit to the Children’s Mid-Autumn Festival at the Cali Saigon Mall in Richardson, and my efforts to enhance human rights in Vietnam. Excerpts of my floor remarks are below, and video can be found here.
We have a vibrant Vietnamese community in Texas that was established after the fall of Saigon and the Vietnam War. Many of them immigrated to the Houston area or to the Metroplex area.
Our Vietnamese American communities in Texas are growing and thriving, and they continue to play a very important role in our increasingly diverse state.
Just last weekend, in fact, I visited Cali Saigon Mall in Garland, Texas for the annual Children's Festival. I participated in an on-stage discussion with a number of community leaders, and though the children seemed more interested in the tiger dance or musical performances and the colorful costumes, it was a great opportunity for me to hear from these folks firsthand. We had a serious discussion about the human rights climate in Vietnam.
Last year one of my constituents, a young man named William Nguyen, was unjustly beaten and detained for participating in demonstrations in Ho Chi Minh City. We were fortunate enough to secure his release back home after the government convicted him on trumped up charges, and I was glad to welcome him back to the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Earlier this year I reintroduced the Vietnam Human Rights Sanctions Act to try to do just that. This bill would impose travel restrictions and other sanctions on Vietnamese nationals complicit in human rights abuses against their fellow citizens. These sanctions would not be lifted until the Vietnamese government releases all political prisoners and stops the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators.
We simply can't avert our gaze and allow these practices to continue without any sort of accountability, and I would say the same for what's happening now in Hong Kong. I appreciate the many Vietnamese Americans who've shared their experiences with me on this topic, and I’ll continue to advocate for a brighter future for the people of Vietnam.