The Guardian October 10, 2001


Vietnam resists new US sanctions

by Rob Gowland

A few days before the devastating terror actions in New York and Washington 
pushed all other news from the public gaze, the US House of Representatives 
passed what they were pleased to call the "Vietnam Human Rights Act".

This Act effectively imposes sanctions on Vietnam, denying it access to all 
multilateral financial aids for development and forbidding US financial 
institutions to work with or in any way assist Vietnam.

The Act legalises and strengthens provocative and propaganda activities 
against Vietnam. All in the name of "protecting human rights" in that 
country.

The Act does allow for the sanctions regime to be lifted: all the 
Vietnamese Government has to do is abandon socialism, introduce "free 
elections" and embrace capitalism.

The need to reconstruct Vietnam's impoverished, war-shattered economy has 
already obliged the Communist Party of Vietnam to pursue an economic policy 
of joint ventures with foreign corporations. A piece of the cake, even a 
substantial piece, is not sufficient for US imperialism, however. They want 
it all.

Despite being overshadowed by the terrorist actions and now the threat of a 
major war, the "Vietnam Human Rights Act" has aroused widespread 
condemnation.

The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) says "This Act, which 
arrogantly claims extra-territorial jurisdiction, is an attempt to 
interfere in the internal affairs of Vietnam and is a gross violation of 
the UN Charter and international law.

"It creates a dangerous precedent in international relations by linking 
trade and economic relations with unacceptable political conditions."

The WFTU notes that "certain special interest groups" are behind the Act. 
These groups, it says, want to undermine the recently concluded Bilateral 
Trade Agreement between the US and Vietnam and to block all attempts to 
improve bilateral relations".

The WFTU has appealed to trade unions in all countries to "strongly protest 
against this law and call upon the US Senate not to ratify this provocative 
legislative proposal".

The WFTU has also referred the US legislation to the World Trade 
Organisation [WTO] seeking a declaration that the provisions of the Act are 
"unlawful and in contravention of WTO rules and the laws and conventions 
relating to international trade".

In Vietnam itself, the US Act has been strongly denounced by the Vietnam 
General Confederation of Labour [VGCL] and also by a joint statement of the 
Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, the Vietnam Youth Federation, the 
Vietnam Association of Students and the Ho Chi Minh Young Pioneers 
Organisation.

The four youth groups, with more than 20 million members, declared that 
"during past decades, many American politicians failed to understand or 
intentionally ignored the real will and aspirations of the Vietnamese 
people".

These US politicians assumed to themselves "the right to bring 'freedom' to 
Vietnam, waged a criminal war against the Vietnamese people, caused great 
pain and losses for both the Vietnamese and American people, [and left] 
behind an irrevocable stain on the history of the United States.

"And today, they once again claim the right to unilaterally judge and 
decide upon the rights of the Vietnamese people."

In fact, say the Vietnamese youth organisations, those US legislators who 
shout loudest for democracy and human rights "are still incapable of 
respecting the most fundamental right of other nations  the right to 
choose their own path for development.

"The Vietnamese people know their rights and interests better than anyone 
else. The young generation of Vietnam believes in and fully supports the 
leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam for its great contributions to 
the nation and for its clear-sighted objectives and policies serving the 
interest of the people.

"The society, which is being built in Vietnam today, is the society of the 
people, by the people and for the people."

The Vietnamese youth organisations have called upon "the youth and people 
of all countries, especially youth and people of the United States, to 
strongly condemn and prevent the approval of this criminal Act".

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