| Home > 106th Congressional Bills > H.R. 1588 (ih) To amend title 11 of the United States Code to permit all debtors to exempt certain payments receivable on account of discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, or gender, and for other purposes. [Introduced in House] %...
H.R. 1588 (ih) To amend title 11 of the United States Code to permit all debtors to exempt certain payments receivable on account of discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, or gender, and for other purposes. [Introduced in House] %...
108th CONGRESS 1st Session H. R. 1587 To promote freedom and democracy in Viet Nam. _______________________________________________________________________ IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES April 3, 2003 Mr. Smith of New Jersey (for himself, Mr. Royce, Mr. Rohrabacher, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Souder, Mr. Pence, Mr. Crowley, Ms. Lofgren, Ms. Ros- Lehtinen, Mr. Tom Davis of Virginia, Mr. Towns, Mr. McNulty, Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida, Mr. Ballenger, Ms. Loretta Sanchez of California, Mr. Sam Johnson of Texas, Mr. Clay, Mr. Beauprez, Mr. Green of Texas, Mr. English, Mr. Green of Wisconsin, Ms. Norton, Mr. Wynn, Mr. Bell, Mr. Moran of Virginia, Mr. Payne, Mr. Cox, Mr. Gallegly, Mr. Moore, Mr. Van Hollen, and Mr. Weldon of Pennsylvania) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations, and in addition to the Committee on Financial Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned _______________________________________________________________________ A BILL To promote freedom and democracy in Viet Nam. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS. (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Viet Nam Human Rights Act of 2003''. (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is as follows: Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents. Sec. 2. Findings. Sec. 3. Purpose. TITLE I--PROHIBITION ON NONHUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF VIET NAM Sec. 101. Bilateral nonhumanitarian assistance. Sec. 102. Multilateral nonhumanitarian assistance. TITLE II--ASSISTANCE TO SUPPORT DEMOCRACY IN VIET NAM Sec. 201. Assistance. TITLE III--UNITED STATES PUBLIC DIPLOMACY Sec. 301. Radio Free Asia transmissions to Viet Nam. Sec. 302. United States educational and cultural exchange programs with Viet Nam. TITLE IV--UNITED STATES REFUGEE POLICY Sec. 401. Refugee resettlement for nationals of Viet Nam. TITLE V--ANNUAL REPORT ON PROGRESS TOWARD FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY IN VIET NAM Sec. 501. Annual report. SEC. 2. FINDINGS. Congress finds the following: (1) Viet Nam is a one-party state, ruled and controlled by the Vietnamese Communist Party. (2)(A) The Government of Viet Nam denies the people of Viet Nam the right to change their government and prohibits independent political, social, and labor organizations. (B) The Government of Viet Nam prohibits and hinders the formation of civil society in Viet Nam. (3)(A) The Government of Viet Nam consistently pursues a policy of harassment, discrimination, and intimidation, and sometimes of imprisonment and other forms of detention, against those who peacefully express dissent from government or party policy. This policy includes collectively punishing family members of individuals targeted for persecution. A government decree allows detention without trial for 6 months to 2 years. (B) Following the United States ratification of the Bilateral Trade Agreement with Viet Nam in 2001, the human rights situation in Viet Nam has remained extremely poor. For certain groups, such as the Montagnards, and other ethnic minorities in Central and North Vietnam, conditions have deteriorated dramatically. In late 2002, the Government of Viet Nam launched a fresh wave of arrests and crackdowns against peaceful critics of the Vietnamese Government, its policy of repression, and its corrupt practices. (C) Recent victims of such mistreatment, which violates the rights to freedom of expression and association recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, include Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, a leading human rights activist who was arrested on March 17, 2003, and has already served two lengthy prison sentences, Dr. Nguyen Thanh Giang, Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, linguist Tran Khue, businessman Nguyen Khac Toan, journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, publicist Le Chi Quang, writer Hoang Tien, military historian Pham Que Duong, Hoang Minh Chinh, Tran Dung Tien, Hoang Trong Dung, Nguyen Vu Viet, Nguyen Truc Cuong, Nguyen Thi Hoa, Vu Cao Quan, Nguyen The Dam, Nguyen Thi Thanh Xuan, Father Chan Tin, author Duong Thu Huong, poet Bui Minh Quoc, Dr. Nguyen Xuan Tu (Ha Si Phu), Dr. Pham Hong Son, Mai Thai Linh, Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Father Nguyen Van Ly, Pastor Nguyen Lap Ma, Father Phan Van Loi, numerous leaders of the Hoa Hao Buddhist Church and of independent Protestant churches, and an undetermined number of members of the Montagnard ethnic minority groups who participated in peaceful demonstrations in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam during February 2001. (4) The Government of Viet Nam systematically deprives its citizens of the fundamental right or organized religious activities outside the state's control. Although some freedom of worship is permitted, believers are forbidden to participate in religious activities except under circumstances rigidly defined and controlled by the Government: (A)(i) In April, 1999 the Government issued a Decree Concerning Religious Activities, which declared in pertinent part that ``[a]ll activities using religious belief in order to oppose the State of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, to prevent the believers from carrying out civic responsibilities, to sabotage the union of all the people, and against the healthy culture of our nation, as well as superstitious activities, will be punished in conformity with the law''. (ii) All public religious activities must be approved by the Government in advance. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in October 2002 recommended that Viet Nam be classified as a country of particular concern. At its Seventh Plenum in January 2003, the Communist Party's Central Committee issued a resolution calling for the establishment of cells of Communist Party members within each of Vietnam's 6 approved religions in order to foil ``hostile forces''. (B)(i) The Unified Buddhist Church of Viet Nam (UBCV), the largest religious denomination in the country, has been declared illegal by the Government, and over the last 27 years its clergy have often been imprisoned and subjected to other forms of persecution. The Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church, 85-year- old Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, has been detained for 25 years in a ruined temple in an isolated area of central Viet Nam. (ii) Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, the Executive President of the Unified Buddhist Church, has also been in various forms of detention since 1977, and was recently rearrested and placed under house arrest after he had proposed to bring Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang to Saigon for medical treatment. (iii) Many other leading Buddhist figures, including Thich Hai Tang, Thich Khong Tanh, Thich Thai Hoa, Thich Tue Si, Thich Quang Hue, Thich Tam An, Thich Nguyen Ly, Thich Thanh Huyen, Thich Thong Dat, Thich Chi Mau, Thich Chi Thang, Thich Chon Niem, Thich Thanh Quang are under tight surveillance. Several members of the UBCV have fled to Cambodia. (C)(i) The Hao Hoa Buddhist Church was also declared to be illegal until 1999, when the Government established an organization which purports to govern the Hao Hoa. According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, ``[t]his organization is made up almost entirely of Communist Party members and apparently is not recognized as legitimate by the vast majority of Hao Hoas . . . [n]evertheless, [this government-sponsored organization] has sought to control all Hao Hoa religious activity, particularly at the Hao Hoa village, which is the center of Hao Hoa religious life''. (ii)(I) Hao Hoa believers who do not recognize the legitimacy of the government organization are denied the right to visit the Hao Hoa village, to conduct traditional religious celebrations, or to display Hao Hoa symbols. Many have been arrested and subjected to administrative detention, and several Hao Hoa have been sentenced to prison terms for protesting these denials of religious freedom. (II) The Government interferes with Hao Hoa efforts to conduct charitable works, and prohibits public celebration to commemorate the founder's disappearance as well as the distribution of the founder's teachings. The Government controls greatly the leadership selection process of the Cao Dais, another indigenous Vietnamese religion. (III) At least the following Hao Hoa believers are known to be in prison or house detention: Ha Hai, Tran Van Be Cao, Tran Nguyen Huon, Phan Thi Tiem, Le Quang Liem, Nguyen Van Dien, Le Minh Triet, and Vo Van Thanh Liem. (D)(i) Independent Protestants, most of whom are members of ethnic minority groups, are subjected to particularly harsh treatment by the Government of Viet Nam. According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, such treatment includes ``police raids on homes and house churches, detention, imprisonment, confiscation of religious and personal property, physical and psychological abuse, and fines for engaging in unapproved religious activities (such as collective worship, public religious expression and distribution of religious literature, and performing baptisms, marriages, or funeral services) . . . [i]n addition, it is reported that ethnic Hmong Protestants have been forced by local officials to agree to abandon their faith''. (ii)(I) According to human rights activists in Viet Nam, 2 secret central plans--Plan 184A and 184B--issued in 1999 by the Communist Party to combat Protestant believers were fully implemented throughout the country, and led to a crackdown on the Protestant movement, especially in the Central and Northern Highland areas. (II) An estimated 14,000 Christians fled from the North to the Central Highlands in the past 5 years. According to the Southern Evangelical Church of Viet Nam, the Government of Viet Nam forcibly closed 354 of the 412 churches in Dak Lak province, 56 pastors from the Central Highlands have disappeared, and at least 43 evangelical Montagnards have been sentenced to prison. Freedom House has reported on the beating death of Hmong Christian Mua Bua Senh by police authorities. (E)(i) Other religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church, are formally recognized by the Government but are subjected to pervasive regulation which violates the right to freedom of religion. For instance, the Catholic Church is forbidden to appoint its own bishops without Government consent, which is frequently denied, to accept seminarians without specific official permission, and to profess Catholic doctrines which are inconsistent with Government policy. Government restrictions on the seminary process have caused a severe shortage of priests. (ii) A Catholic priest, Father Nguyen Van Ly, was arrested in March 2001 and remains in detention after submitting written testimony to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. On October 19, 2001, he was sentenced to a total of 20 years of imprisonment and house arrest; the trial in Hue took place closed to the public and without a defense lawyer. (iii) In October 2002, the Vietnamese Bishops Conference took an unprecedented step when they protested to the National Assembly about the persecutions endured by Catholic ethnic minorities. (F) The Government has also confiscated numerous churches, temples, and other properties belonging to religious organizations. The vast majority of these properties--even those belonging to religious organizations formally recognized by the Government-- have never been returned. (5)(A) Since 1975 the Government of Viet Nam has persecuted veterans of the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam and other Vietnamese who had opposed the Viet Cong insurgency and the North Vietnamese invasion of South Viet Nam. Such persecution typically included substantial terms in ``re-education camps'', where detainees were often subjected to torture and other forms of physical abuse, and in which many died. (B) Re-education camp survivors and their families were often forced into internal exile in ``New Economic Zones''. Many of these former allies of the United States, as well as members of their families, continue until the present day to suffer various forms of harassment and discrimination, including denial of basic social benefits and exclusion from higher education and employment. (6)(A) The Government of Viet Nam has been particularly harsh in its treatment of members of the Montagnard ethnic minority groups of the Central Highlands of Viet Nam, who were the first line in the defense of South Viet Nam against invasion from the North and who fought courageously beside members of the Special Forces of the United States, suffering disproportionately heavy casualties, and saving the lives of many of their American and Vietnamese comrades-in-arms. (B) Since 1975 the Montagnard peoples have been singled out for severe repression, in part because of their past association with the United States and in part because their strong commitment to their traditional way of life and to their Christian religion is regarded as inconsistent with the absolute loyalty and control demanded by the Communist system. The Government employs a policy of assimilation and oppression against the Montagnards, forcibly displacing them from their ancestral lands to make way for North Vietnamese settlers, coffee plantations, and logging operations. (C) Between February and March 2001, several thousand members of the mountain tribes Djarai, Bahnar, and Rhade from the provinces of Pleiku, Gialai, and Daklak took part in a
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