Media Roundtable in Hanoi, Viet Nam with Assistant Secretary Malinowski

Posted on Updated on

Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Tom Malinowski
U.S. Mission Hanoi – Hanoi, Vietnam


Moderator: — But we’re very fortunate in our visitor today because of the wide-ranging nature of the topics, which are of such interest these days, we’re pleased to have Tom Malinowski who is the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the Department of State. He’s been in that position since April of this year, 2014. Prior to that he spent more than a decade as the Director of the Washington, DC office of Human Rights Watch. Earlier in his career he also worked for the State Department in our Policy Planning Division. I think we’ll dive right in.

This event is on the record and he’s here to talk about his visit here to Vietnam.

Assistant Secretary Malinowski: Thank you everybody. Thanks for joining us.

We’re just finishing several days here in Hanoi. It’s my first trip since the year 2000 when I was here with President Clinton on his historic trip to the country that year.

I have had a very very productive set of meetings. We met with the Vice Minister of Public Security, To Lam; the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs; the External Relations Committee of the Communist Party; National Assembly; a number of meetings with members of civil society. Today we attended services at the Hanoi Evangelical Church, stopped by Quan Su Pagoda, and this evening will be going to a Catholic mass in the city.

Yesterday we spent a day outside of town in Thai Nguyen visiting the Phu Son Prison which the Ministry of Public Security arranged for us.

We’ve had a lot of diplomatic activity in the last few weeks. I’m here in the wake of Ambassador Froman’s visit, our Trade Representative. The Foreign Minister of Vietnam was just in Washington, met with Secretary Kerry, where we announced the partial lifting of the lethal arms ban. And made clear that we want to do more to deepen the relationship, we can do more, both in the realm of security cooperation, TPP; but we can do this if, and only if, there’s demonstrable progress on human rights.

So the purpose of my trip is to explore what progress might be possible this year and over the next couple of years.

Read more:

Life of Vietnamese Activist in Danger Due to Gross Mistreatment in Prison

Posted on Updated on


October 27, 2014

The Vietnamese government should immediately cease the ill-treatment, physical and psychological abuse of Dang Xuan Dieu while in arbitrary detention. News reports of Dang Xuan Dieu being forced to sleep and eat next to his excrement; denied access to adequate food, clean drinking water and regular showers; and subjected to humiliation and torture reveal the inhumane conditions of his detention.

In January 2013, together with 13 activists Dang Xuan Dieu was sentenced to 13 years in prison for “attempting to overthrow the government” based on his work as a community organizer who advocated for education for children living in poverty and aid to people with disability and his writings that highlighted the Vietnamese government’s religious persecution.

International human rights organizations, elected officials and foreign embassies in Hanoi have called for Dang Xuan Dieu’s immediate release. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has ruled that Dang Xuan Dieu and his fellow activists’ detention was arbitrary and unlawful.

According to reports, Dang Xuan Dieu, who is currently serving one of the longest politically motivated sentences in Vietnam, has been held in solitary confinement and subject to physical and psychological abuse as punishment for protesting his ill. On several occasions, prison officials forced Dang Xuan Dieu to “model” while other prisoners painted him into a “half-human/half-beast” figure.

Dang Xuan Dieu has been on prolonged hunger strikes since April 2014 to demand better treatment. In retaliation, prison officials act with impunity and have reportedly let other prisoners beat and treat Dang Xuan Dieu like a “slave.”

Despite the signing of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment last November, according to reports from those in detention, the Vietnamese government continues to show blatant disregard for the humane treatment of prisoners.

In light of these reports, we call on foreign embassies in Hanoi to make every effort to visit Dang Xuan Dieu in prison and monitor his health. Attention from distinguished international personnel can and will improve his conditions.

The Vietnamese government must release Dang Xuan Dieu immediately and unconditionally and must take all steps to provide him and other prisoners with humane treatment and appropriate access to sanitary facilities in accordance with their international obligations.

For more information, please contact:

ACAT France
Christine Laroque, Asia Programs Manager, and +33
1 40 40 74 09

Jochai Ben-Avie, Policy Director, and +1 347 806 9531

Electronic Frontier Foundation
Eva Galperin, Global Policy Analyst, and +1 415 436 9333 ex. 111

English PEN
Cat Lucas, Writers at Risk Programme Manager, and +44 20 7324 2539

Media Legal Defence Initiative
Nani Jansen, Legal Director, and +44 780 540 4089

PEN International
Cathy McCann, Researcher, and +44 20 7405 0338

Viet Tan
Hoang Tu Duy, Spokesperson, and +1 202 596 7951

- See more at:


For related articles on prisoners of conscience in Vietnam:

Fixing the United States’ Human Rights Misstep With Vietnam

Posted on

By selling weapons to Vietnam, the United States is selling out activitsts
October 8, 2014

Torpedoes Don’t Kill People. Hanoi Kills People.

Posted on

Why we shouldn’t be selling arms to Vietnam.

OCTOBER 3, 2014

The Obama administration announced on Oct. 2 that it was relaxing a decades-old ban on sales of lethal military equipment to Vietnam. The United States will now allow the Pentagon and U.S. companies to provide Vietnam with “maritime security-related defense articles.” The move coincided with a visit to Washington by Deputy Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh — where he met with Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — and came without much warning. This may have been intentional given the controversy surrounding it.

Looming over the decision is Vietnam’s exceedingly poor human rights record and Hanoi’s unwillingness to undertake basic reforms. Like China, its neighbor to the north, Vietnam has changed a great deal since the end of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam in the mid-1970s, when the arms embargo was first put in place: It is far wealthier, more integrated in the world economy, and it has relaxed state control over business. But as with China, the basic reality of its governance remains the same: It is a one-party, non-democratic state that imposes harsh limitations on basic rights and freedoms.

The U.S. government defends the policy change by claiming that maritime equipment cannot be used to stifle dissent. This argument misses the point. Of course, Hanoi won’t fire U.S.-made torpedoes at protesting crowds. Vietnam’s security forces don’t need complicated military equipment to quiet critics. When they arrest dissidents and bloggers, they just drive to protest sites, or people’s homes, and arrest them. Vietnam does not need to purchase firearms, batons, and tear gas from the United States at all — its security forces can purchase these inexpensive items in existing markets.

But the decision to start lethal arms sales undercuts the brave work of Vietnamese activists who expect the United States and other democracies to pressure the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam to end its systematic repression and engage in serious reform.

It sends a signal to Vietnam’s ruling party that they can choose to reform or not, and be treated the same either way.

That is not the kind of message Hanoi needs to hear.

For full article:

Washington (AFP) – In a decision likely to anger China, the US is partly lifting a 40-year ban on arms sales to former foe Vietnam to help boost defenses in the tense South China Sea.

The historic easing of the ban in place since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 will only apply to maritime equipment, State Department officials stressed, and comes amid warming ties and as Hanoi makes “modest” improvements to human rights.

“What’s driving this is not a sudden desire to transfer military equipment to Vietnam writ large, but a specific need in the region,” said one official, highlighting what he called Vietnam’s lack of capacity in the disputed waters and America’s own national security interests.

“It’s useful in trying to deal with the territorial disputes in the South China Sea to bolster the capacity of our friends in the region to maintain a maritime presence in some capacity.”

Some 40 percent of the world’s seaborne trade passes through the sea which is claimed in part by Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia, as well as China and the Philippines.

Although the United States has not taken sides in the territorial disputes, it has warned Beijing against “destabilizing actions” amid a series of tense maritime incidents.

Earlier this year, Beijing placed an oil rig in waters also claimed by Vietnam, sparking deadly riots in the Southeast Asian nation.

Secretary of State John Kerry informed his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Min during talks Thursday of Washington’s move to adjust the current policy “to allow the transfer of defense equipment, including lethal defense equipment, for maritime security purposes only,” a senior State Department official said.

Kerry later praised “the transformation” in Vietnam since the US normalized diplomatic relations two decades ago, calling it “nothing short of amazing.”

“Vietnam has become a modern nation and an important partner of the United States. And (when) we talk to the young people in Vietnam you can feel the enthusiasm for the potential of the future,” he told a US-ASEAN business council dinner.

- Not ‘anti-China’ -

A prohibition on sales of other kinds of lethal weapons, such as tanks, will stay in place as Washington pushes Hanoi to improve its human rights record.

“Vietnam will need to make additional progress on human rights for the United States to consider a full lift of the ban on lethal defense articles in the future,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

US officials denied the policy change was “anti-China” and insisted they had no specific sales to outline so far, but would consider each request from Hanoi on a case-by-case basis.

And they sought to allay any concerns from Beijing, saying it was purely a defensive measure.

“We’re not talking about destabilizing systems, we’re talking about defensive capabilities… These are not things that are going to tip the regional balance,” a second State Department official said, also asking not to be named.

Any sales would be done in close consultation with the US Congress, and would be heavily focused on equipping the Vietnamese coast guard, the State Department officials said.

So far, Washington has only been allowed to sell unarmed patrol boats to the Vietnamese coastguard since a total ban on military sales was lifted in 2006. That could now change, for example, the officials said.

And they acknowledged that airborne defense systems would also be considered for sale if they included a maritime capacity.

“This policy supports Vietnam’s efforts to improve its maritime domain awareness and maritime security capabilities,” Psaki told reporters.

Officials said, however, that the easing of the ban did not mean all arms sales were now on the table to the communist-run authorities amid continuing concerns about rights such as freedom of expression and religion.

“It’s not an indication that we are going to provide all lethal assistance now. It just simply says we can remove what has been a hinderance to our ability to provide legitimate maritime capacity,” the second unnamed State Department official said.

For original article and related articles follow the links below: