US Press Urge Action on Vietnamese Human Rights

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President Obama is under growing pressure to insist on real improvements in human rights during his visit to Vietnam which begins on May 23.

Top American newspapers have added their voices to those of influential congressmen who are demanding the release of political prisoners.

The Washington Post and the New York Times have both written hard hitting editorials, arguing that the US should not agree to lift a ban on arms sales to Vietnam without significant commitments on human rights.

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President Obama’s meeting with Nguyen Phu Trong, the Vietnamese Communist party boss, last year signalled a significant warming of relations

Elements of the embargo were relaxed in 2014 and Vietnam has made clear it sees the final scrapping of the ban as a priority.

“Mr. Obama should not feel obliged to give Vietnam’s authoritarian government what it wants — a complete lifting of the embargo on arms shipments imposed during the war, unless it takes credible steps toward addressing serious human rights abuses,” said the New York Times.

“Given Hanoi’s authoritarian ways..this is not the time to lift the ban completely. The Communist Party controls all institutions in Vietnam, permits no free elections, holds over 100 political prisoners and has yet to meet its obligations under the new trade agreement to allow labor unions,” said the editorial.

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