The United States will continue to put pressure on Vietnam to release political dissidents convicted for spreading propaganda against the communist regime, the new US ambassador to Hanoi said Friday September 21. “We don’t believe people should be put in jail just for expressing their opinion. We will continue to urge the government of Vietnam to release those persons,” Michael Michalak told a press conference.
Michalak said he will “continue to encourage the government of Vietnam to make progress on human rights, including religious freedom, freedom of the press and freedom of expression.”
Vietnam has drawn criticism from Western governments and human rights groups in recent months for a series of arrests and trials of political activists accusing of spreading anti-state propaganda.
The US envoy said he would work for a revision of article 88 of Vietnam’s penal code, under which many dissidents have been convicted and which allows for jail sentences ranging from three to 20 years on the propaganda charge.
“We would like to talk about ways to change this particular article. Many within the government of Vietnam believe that article is way out of date and needs to be revised,” Michalak said.