``The women were incredibly brave,'' Sanchez said. ``They were pushing and shoving the women.''
So what is Loretta Sanchez talking about? Well, the Vietnamese government won't let dissidents meet her. So why is the Vietnamese government afraid of my fabulous Congresswoman? Here's what I just saw from AP via The Guardian (UK):
Vietnamese police blocked dissidents' wives from attending a tea at the U.S. ambassador's house, creating a scene that he feared ``was at risk of spiraling out of control,'' the diplomat said Friday.
U.S. Ambassador Michael Marine had also invited Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who said police had ``manhandled'' the women.
Sanchez, D-Calif., who has criticized Vietnam's communist government, said 15 police officers surrounded two women when they arrived at U.S. Ambassador Michael Marine's home on Thursday evening.
So what's happening with the dissdients, and how did my Congresswoman get involved? Let Loretta tell you all about it after the flip...
So what's going on? Here's what Loretta's office has to say:
U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D- Garden Grove) joined an armed services congressional delegation in Vietnam after three previous visa denials by the Vietnamese government. The delegation held meetings regarding the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command's mission to account for missing American soldiers.
Sanchez, who represents one of largest Vietnamese constituencies outside of Vietnam, seized the opportunity to meet with the wives of political dissidents (many who are imprisoned or under house arrest) at the invitation of U.S. Ambassador Michael W. Marine to discuss the recent escalation of human rights violations by the Vietnamese government.
Unfortunately, the wives were blocked entrance to the Ambassador's residence and physically coerced off the premises by Vietnamese police.
"The situation in Vietnam has reached a boiling point when Americans cannot freely meet with regular citizens," stated Sanchez. "None of the women face criminal charges; other invited guests were barricaded at their homes by Vietnamese officials preventing them from attending."
"The recent crackdown on pro-democracy advocates in Vietnam is unacceptable," said Sanchez. Recent incidents include: the sentencing of 8 years in prison for Father Nguyen Van Ly, the arrests of human rights attorneys Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan and Le Quoc Quan; and the unmet medical needs of incarcerated journalist Nguyen Vu Binh. Nearly 200 people are thought to have been held without trial, including the Venerable Thich Quang Do and Thich Huyen Quang, leaders of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam.
"The Government of Vietnam has ignored the countless requests from our Congress to improve its human rights record, stop oppression and grant citizens greater political and religious freedoms."
Sanchez, co-founder of the Vietnam Caucus, opposed the U.S. granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to Vietnam due to the lack of human rights protections in the trade agreement.
A tireless advocate for human rights, Sanchez has continuously challenged the Government of Vietnam to change its repressive human rights policy that is implicated in political and religious persecution. She has promoted awareness and policy debates in the U.S. Congress, urging her colleagues to address the human rights violations as it considers the United States' relationship with Vietnam.
So why is the Vietnamese government afraid of Loretta? And why are they afraid of allowing their citizens to meet with a member of the US Congress and a US Ambassador? Perhaps because this member of Congress has spoken up on behalf of the Vietnamese people? Perhaps because she's trying to shed some light on the Vietnamese government's reprehensible human rights abuses? Perhaps because she supports real democracy in Vietnam?
Well, I'm glad to see that Loretta's continuing to raise hell on this...
Now I'd just feel better if the Vietnamese government were to actually pay attention to her, and stop repressing their own people.