The US plans to enter into a trade pact with Vietnam by the end of the year—and in the process "sell out human rights" in the country, professor Allen Weiner writes in the Washington Post. Indeed, Hillary Clinton announced the pact last month just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the nation's latest crackdown on dissent. Over the past year, Vietnam has been arresting activists "whose 'crime' has been to advocate governmental action on a broad range of human rights and social justice issues."
The detainees are part of an informal network of activists, bloggers, and citizen journalists, many affiliated with the Roman Catholic Redemptorist Church of Vietnam—"a reflection of a pattern of discrimination against religious minorities." They were arrested without warrants, held incommunicado for months, and allowed no access to lawyers. Their alleged crimes included things like "undermining of national unity," and "propaganda against the Socialist Republic." "The US should not reward Vietnam," Weiner argues, "while the government in Hanoi uses its legal systems to stifle dissent." Click for Weiner's full piece. (Read more Vietnam stories.)