The economic benefit to the Vietnamese people remains to be seen. But what is clear is that the agreement has not stopped human rights abuses. As if to make this clear, the Vietnamese arrested Ly just days before the agreement was announced.
This must not continue. The trade agreement, which is far more important to Vietnam than to us, must be renewed every year. Christians above all must insist that our government demand religious freedom and other human rights as a condition for trade.
At the very least, our State Department ought to designate Vietnam as a ?country of particular concern,? because under the International Religious Freedom Act, this would then require the United States ?to engage with the Vietnamese government to advance the cause of religious freedom.?
As the presidential campaign reminds us, Americans still spend a lot of time thinking about Vietnam. The question is: Are we prepared to put all that thinking to good use?
For further reading and information:
Kevin Eckstrom, ? State Department Adds Saudi Arabia to ?Worst of Worst? Persecutors List ,? Christianity Today, 16 September 2004.
Jared Genser, ? The Real Scandal about Vietnam ,? Washington Post, 25 August 2004, A17.
Learn more about Genser?s organization, Freedom Now .
Paul Marshall, ? Vietnam?Still,? National Review Online, 8 September 2004.
?Vietnam and Cambodia to stop Montagnards from fleeing ,? Associated Press, 14 September 2004.
?Vietnamese Minority Clash with Government over Highlands ,? NPR, 13 September 2004.
?Vietnamese hill people find a home in US ,? The Age (Australia), 21 August 2004.
Timothy R. Callahan, ? Vietnam?s ?Appalling? Persecution ,? Christianity Today, 31 December 2003.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 040713, ? Faithful Unto Death: The Plight of Burmese Christians .?
BreakPoint Commentary No. 040503, ? Touching the Untouchable: India Targets Christian Converts .?
See the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom . The Commission has recommended that Secretary of State Colin Powell designate Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern.
Mark your calendar: November 9, 2004, is the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church .
Learn more about helping the persecuted Church at Stand Today?s website