Vietnam Human Rights Network and Defend the Defenders’ Joint Open Letter to Vice President Kamala Harris


Press release

For immediate release

May 04, 2021


Ahead of Vice President Kamala Harris’ announced trip to Vietnam in August 2021, the Vietnam Human Rights Network and Defend the Defenders published a joint open letter asking the Vice President to raise the issues of human rights violation during her upcoming discussions with the Vietnamese government’s officials.

The open letter also calls on Vice President Harris to persuade the Vietnamese government to immediately stop human rights activists’ arbitrary detention and unconditionally release prisoners held for political and religious reasons.

Following is the full text of the open letter. 




Protecting Human Rights Activists in Vietnam



August 04, 2021

The Honorable Kamala D. Harris

Vice President of the United States of America

The White House

Office of the Vice President

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Vice President Harris,

We sincerely appreciate your administration’s effort to place democracy and human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy. Secretary Antony J. Blinken has affirmed, “the Biden-Harris administration will stand against human rights abuses wherever they occur, regardless of whether the perpetrators are adversaries or partners.” As your trip to Vietnam and Singapore approaches, we respectfully ask that you continue your dedication to human rights as the highest-ranking U.S. official present.

Our 2020-2021 Report on Human Rights in Vietnam shows that the Vietnamese government continues to violate fundamental human rights, from discrimination, arbitrary arrest and detention, and violation of trial fairness to restrict freedom of religion, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of association. From January 2020 until May 31, 2021, Vietnam arrested and detained 79 people who had peacefully exercised their fundamental rights. As of May 31, 2021, 288 prisoners of conscience were held in harsh physical and administrative conditions.(1)

In light of these human rights violations and restrictions of freedom, we urge that you demonstrate leadership in promoting human rights by:

-    encouraging and persuading the Vietnamese government to undertake reforms and bring about substantive improvements in the country’s human rights situation;

-    calling on the Vietnamese government to immediately and unconditionally end the arbitrary detention of peaceful dissidents and release all prisoners of conscience and political prisoners.

We also urge you to meet with dissidents and the families of prisoners of conscience to demonstrate your strong advocacy for human rights and compassion with those who have courageously sacrificed for the just cause. Finally, we stand by and are ready to assist you with expert advice, information, and references in preparation for your trip to Vietnam.

We wish you a safe and very successful visit to Asia.



Tung B Nguyen

President of Vietnam Human Rights Network


Ngu Q Vu

Director of Defend the Defenders


(1) please refer to our Report on Human Rights in Vietnam 2020-2021, available at:



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