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] %...

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  1st Session
                                H. R. 1587

             To promote freedom and democracy in Viet Nam.



                             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,


    (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 

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Findings.
Sec. 3. Purpose.
                                VIET NAM

Sec. 101. Bilateral nonhumanitarian assistance.
Sec. 102. Multilateral nonhumanitarian assistance.

Sec. 201. Assistance.

Sec. 301. Radio Free Asia transmissions to Viet Nam.
Sec. 302. United States educational and cultural exchange programs with 
                            Viet Nam.

Sec. 401. Refugee resettlement for nationals of Viet Nam.

Sec. 501. Annual report.


    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 
                    (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 
                    (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 
                    (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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