Congressman Lowenthal Calls US Lifting Of Ban On Lethal Weapon Sales To Vietnam Ill-advised and Premature

May 23, 2016
Press Release
Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today issued the following statement on the lifting of a decades-old United States ban on the sale of lethal weapons to Vietnam:

"The lifting of this ban on lethal weapons sales by the United States to Vietnam was premature and ill-advised.  I am very disappointed that we have lost yet another opportunity to elicit any kind of commitment from the Vietnamese government on improving the human rights of the Vietnamese people.

"By any measure, Vietnam has made no recent progress toward respecting the rights of its own citizens. Just before President Obama's trip, the government suppressed protests over an environmental disaster in four central Vietnamese provinces and then conducted highly-staged elections which excluded any candidate not approved by the Communist Party. Only three days ago, Vietnamese American civil rights activist Nancy Nguyen from Southern California disappeared in Vietnam. In fact, the very day that the President arrived, activists and journalists reportedly set to meet with him were prevented from doing so by Vietnamese government forces.

"Vietnam continues to jail prisoners of conscience of all stripes, from human rights lawyers and bloggers to labor organizers and religious leaders. If Vietnam wishes to create a stronger relationship with the United States, and prior to the U.S. sale of any lethal weapons, Vietnam must begin to respect the freedoms and rights of the Vietnamese people."