Obama: Upholding Vietnamese Rights Not a Threat to Society
President Barack Obama, in a forward-looking speech, has told the Vietnamese that they and the American people are “embarking on a 100-year journey together.”
The U.S. leader, in a wide-ranging address at Hanoi’s National Convention Center Tuesday, before more than 2,000 people, included some Vietnamese government officials, also touched on the very sensitive topic of human rights.
Obama noted that the rights to freedom of speech and the press, as well as the rights to freedom of assembly, are enshrined in Vietnam’s constitution. He also spoke of opening Vietnam’s political process to candidates from outside the Communist Party.
“It is my view that upholding these rights is not a threat to stability,” Obama said.
There are more than 100 political prisoners in Vietnam, and additional people have been detained in the past week, according to activists.
For the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch the president’s remarks and the joint statement in Hanoi do not go far enough.
Obama also reiterated the right to freedom of navigation and said the United States would support that right for other nations.
“Big nations should not bully smaller ones,” the U.S. president didn’t name China.
North Korean Workers Defect; Seek Asylum in South
Another group of North Korean defectors have fled a Pyongyang-run restaurant in China, seeking asylum in South Korea, Seoul's Unification Ministry announced Tuesday.
Just last month 13 North Koreans, working for a North owned restaurant in China, escaped to South Korea. South Korean leaders say the workers came of their own free will, while the North claims they were essentially kidnapped by spies who tricked them into defecting.
North Korea runs approximately 130 restaurants overseas, most of which are in China, according to a report by the South's spy service released earlier this year. The National Intelligence Service indicates that North Korea has between 50,000 and 60,000 workers abroad, mostly to bring in foreign currency.