Bipartisan Letter Calls on Biden to Advocate for Vietnamese Political Prisoners Amid Strategic Partnership Upgrade

Dang Dinh Bach, lawyer and environmental activist, and one of the Vietnam Five arrested on spurious charges of “tax evasion”

In a Sept. 8 letter led by the Vietnam Caucus, five members of US Congress called on President Joe Biden to use his visit to Vietnam to address human rights abuses “and at a minimum, secure the release of prisoners of conscience and extract a guarantee that there will be no further arrests as our relationship with the country is upgraded to a Strategic Partnership.”

The letter followed intensive advocacy from Project 88 ahead of the visit, especially in raising awareness about the cases of the Vietnam Five — five climate leaders arrested on spurious charges of tax evasion since 2021. The letter cited Project 88’s investigation into these political prosecutions, stating that, “the failure to sanction Vietnam for this lawless behavior has had a chilling effect” as Vietnam is “using the threat of criminal prosecution for ‘tax evasion’ as a cudgel to suppress the emergence of an independent civil society, while restricting basic rights to freedom of association and speech.”

In addition to the release of political prisoners and a moratorium on new arrests, the authors also pressed Biden to commit to amnesty for political prisoners before any arms sales are made to Vietnam.

Read the full text of the letter here.