Boat People SOS
President Obama will play host to Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang at the White House on July 25.
The President of the United States
Soon you will play host to Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang at the White House to discuss strategic partnership between America and communist Vietnam. We, the undersigned, call on you to place human rights and freedoms above trade, defend the property of U.S. citizens, and protect American businesses and workers from unfair competition.
Since 2001 trade with Vietnam has increased 17 folds. Yet, human rights conditions have steadily deteriorated over exactly that same period of time. The wishful argument “do business first and human rights will follow” clearly has not worked. It is time that the U.S. reverses the order: demand human rights first then expand trade with Vietnam.
The Vietnamese government has violated the rights not only of its citizens but also of Americans. We urge your Administration to comply with US law and seriously defend the property of US citizens that has been illegally confiscated by the Vietnamese government. The communist regime has nationalized lands and homes and withheld assets that belong to U.S. citizens. U.S. law stipulates that the U.S. President imposes sanctions on any foreign government that expropriates property of Americans.
The U.S. currently faces an annual trade deficit of ten billion U.S. dollars with Vietnam, which equates to the loss of some 100,000 jobs. American goods cannot compete against those produced from labor exploitation or forced labor, which is rampant in Vietnam. According to one study, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that your Administration is negotiating with Vietnam would triple the trade deficit and cost at least another half a million American jobs over the next five years due to unfair competition.
So, at the upcoming meeting with the Vietnamese President, please ask him to release all political prisoners, compensate U.S. citizens for confiscated property, and end forced labor. These acts will help convince the American public and the world that expanded relationship with Vietnam will not lead to further backsliding in human rights, more U.S. citizens being disowned of their property, and growing trade deficit and job losses for the American people.