Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Representing the 18th District of TEXAS


Jun 23, 2015
Promoting Human Rights and Democracy in Vietnam through the Vietnam Human Rights Act (H.R. 2140, S.___) and Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Thursday June 18, 2015

9-12: Cannon Caucus Room


  • Good Morning to you all.
  • My name is Sheila Jackson Lee and I represent the 18th District of Texas.
  • I welcome you all to Capital Hill.
  • I thank the Vietnam Advocacy Day on the U.S. Capital Committee.
  • I welcome the Vietnamese-American delegation from the Greater Houston area.
  • I also welcome the Council for Human Rights in Vietnam (CHRV).
  • The Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American community has been instrumental in helping the economy of our country flourish.
  • They have helped build and run successful businesses across our country.
  • They have served our community as doctors, lawyers, teachers, advocates and successful business owners, just to name a few.
  • Houston Texas has the fourth largest population of persons of Vietnamese decent, boasting over 35,000 persons, with over 80,000 in Harris County.
  • In the 18th District of Texas alone, I represent thousands of members of the Vietnamese community.
  • Today’s advocacy day focus on supporting the Vietnam Human Rights Act and releasing prisoners of conscience is very important to me and very important for us all.
  • As the United States and Vietnam mark 20 years of diplomatic relations, it is imperative that we achieve significant improvements in human rights practices.
  • After all, as the saying goes, an injury to one is an injury to all.
  • As you know, fighting for human rights across the globe is one of my passions.
  • In fact, I have authored and supported numerous legislation and resolutions that seek to protect constitutional rights.
  • Freedom and democracy are the very bedrock of the United States Constitution.
  • The First Amendment of the U.S Constitution protects the religious and free speech rights of all persons.
  • This is why the enactment of a Vietnam Human Rights law that protects religious freedom, political thought, association and peaceable assembly is imperative.
  • In 2014, through my membership in the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, I adopted Blogger Ta Phong Tan.
  • I continue to have grave concerns that she is currently on hunger strike in prison and that she is denied visitation by her family.
  • My heart goes back to her family and she remains in our thoughts and prayers even as we work from the outside to bring awareness around her persecution and the need for her immediate release.
  • Ta Phong Tan is one of 150 imprisoned religious and political dissidents whose names have been compiled by human rights organizations, as well as hundreds of others from ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples who are being held in remote areas of the Vietnam.
  • A Vietnam Human Rights Act that includes the protection of religious and political dissidents, civil society organizations, respect of labor rights and combats human trafficking is instrumental to the facilitation of the rule of law for Vietnamese people.
  • All these freedoms aspired for in the Human Rights Act are important to help uphold the notions of equity and fairness that will help promote a just and healthy society in Vietnam and across the globe.
  • I commend everyone present today for all the work you have done and that you continue to do to preserve human rights and thus making our world a better place.
  • Again, I am grateful for the opportunity to address our Vietnamese community during its annual advocacy day in support of the Vietnam Human Rights Act and the need for the releasing of prisoners of conscience.