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Vietnam vets support lifting of arms embargo, but human rights groups lament lost leverage

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By dz sam | May 23, 2016 9:22 pm

As President Obama lifts Vietnam arms embargo, human rights groups and U.S. lawmakers criticized President Obama for he gave up an important bargaining chip for pressuring Hanoi to improve its human rights record.

“Even as it faces the glare of global attention with the U.S. president’s visit, the Vietnamese authorities, shamefully, are carrying out their repressive business as usual,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s director for South East Asia and the Pacific. “Amnesty International has spoken to several activists in different cities around the country who are subjected to surveillance and intimidation,” the group said. “Several activists have been physically attacked in the last week.”

President Obama lifts Vietnam arms embargo that lasted 50 years

President Obama lifts Vietnam arms embargo that lasted 50 years

“Vietnamese authorities must allow journalists do their job and individuals to express themselves freely,” said Mr. Djamin.

“It’s important to remember, even as President Obama is traveling to Vietnam, that Vietnam is a brutal communist regime that continues to disregard basic human rights,” Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican said on the Senate floor. “Our two countries will never achieve the kind of close relationship that I know many in Vietnam and many in the United States aspire to until Vietnam releases all political prisoners, demonstrates basic respect for human rights and embraces self-government ideals that we, again, take for granted here in America.”

On the other hand, Vietnam vets contemplated that Americans long ago forgave Germany and Japan for World War II, so there’s no reason not to do the same with Vietnam and lifting the ban on U.S. arms sales to Vietnam makes sense in the face of China’s growing influence in the region.

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