Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Economic progress key to securing human rights in Viet Nam, U.S. Ambassador says

The newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Viet Nam, Michael Michalak, said on Sunday that he would push for human rights in the country, the Los Angeles Times reported today.

The ambassador, speaking at a town hall meeting in Westminster, California, said his focus on encouraging foreign investment to boost Viet Nam’s economy and strengthening the education system will enable greater human rights and political reform in the country.

“There are some things in an open society that are needed to attract large amounts of investment in Vietnam,” Michalak said. “The Vietnamese government will be forced to be more transparent.”

“Human rights will follow when people have a better life, and that comes from a better economy,” said Peter Duong, president of Westminster-based Vietnamese Federation of Labor in Overseas.

Michalak warned, however, that change cannot be expected to occur overnight. He urged Vietnamese Americans – some of whom have called on the U.S. to increase pressure on Hanoi before engaging in more trade – to have patience.

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