Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today issued the following statement on his recent meeting in Washington, D.C. with U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink:
I was honored to meet earlier this week for the first time in person with U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, Daniel Kritenbrink.
The Ambassador began with an update of the current political climate in Vietnam and made clear that he routinely brings up the United States’ human rights concerns with Vietnamese government officials.
I took the opportunity to share with the Ambassador the major concerns I have regarding Vietnam and highlight the issues I am working on for the Vietnamese American community in the 47th District.
In many cases during the wide-ranging discussion, the Ambassador affirmed his desire to assist my office as much as possible in dealing with these issues.
I made sure that the Ambassador knew of my concerns and the concerns of my constituents about ongoing human rights abuses by the Vietnamese government, especially in the continuing arrest, detention, and severe sentencing of activists and religious figures. I brought up specifically the cases of the Patriarch Thich Quang Do and Nguyen Van Dai. He said he hopes to visit with the Patriarch in the near future.
On religious freedom, I expressed my appreciation to the Ambassador for the U.S. Consul General’s recent visit to the Vietnamese Interfaith Council. I also encouraged State Department staff to continue to make regular visits and support the work of independent religious organizations and leaders.
We also spoke about the issue of deportations from the U.S. back to Vietnam of individuals who came to the U.S. from Vietnam before 1995. The Ambassador underscored that the U.S. Mission in Vietnam continues to work closely with Vietnamese authorities to address these issues.
I also informed the Ambassador of the case of Helen Huynh, a Vietnamese American constituent in my district who needed a stem cell transplant for cancer treatment. Her sister, who lives in Vietnam, was a perfect donor match for the procedure, but was denied entry into the U.S. several times before gaining a waiver to enter on humanitarian grounds. Unfortunately, the procedure did not happen in a timely manner and Helen succumbed to her illness early this year. Since then, I have been working with Helen’s family to address the reasons Helen’s sister was delayed in reaching her sister, and on possible solutions to a problem faced by too many families dealing with medical emergencies.
I also thanked the Ambassador for his recent visit to the Bien Hoa cemetery outside of Saigon and emphasized the importance of this issue among the Vietnamese American community.
I was very encouraged by the Ambassador’s willingness to work with my office on these issues and I look forward to personally welcoming him to the 47th District in the future.