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tv   Vu Minh Khanh to Testify on Political Prisoners in Vietnam  CSPAN  May 20, 2016 8:02pm-9:11pm EDT

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for goods and services and the president will use this as an opportunity to advance interest abroad. that is why the president worked hard to be in agreement with the transpacific partnership and that is why he is pushing it hard domestically. i believe we will have a few more announcements along the road over the next week and those of you who are are joining us we will keep you updated >> the president leaves for his trip to vietnam and japan tomorrow. he delivers a speech tomorrow and attends a g-# meeting on thursday and on friday the president will lay a wreath at the memorial in hiroshema japan. the wife of a vietnam government worker who has been jailed
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testified. nguyen van da is facing a 20 year sentence on charges of conducting propaganda against the state. this is an hour. >> the hearing comes to order and good afternoon to everyone. one of the potential partners in the transpacific partnership, vietnam is the only country banning religious groups, violating internet freedom, harbors child violators and regularly jails those who speak out for human rights. there are over a hundred prisoners of conscious. nguyen van da spent four years in jail and four additional
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under house arrest. he was detained again and brutally beaten last december for continuing his work. his arbitrary detention undercuts claims that vietnam's leadership can become a trusted partner. i had the privilege of meeting with him at his law office at of vu minh and i was taken by his love for the country. his wife is here to speak on his behalf and her testimony is
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timely because president obama is traveling to vietnam at the end of the month. a steady stream of state department officials are going to vietnam prior to the trip. in fact the assistant secretary for democracy and human rights and labor is in vietnam today. the administration shouldn't try to white wash the record prior to t president's trip but must make it clear that we don't support these human rights violations. the release of nguyen van da and others should be a pre-condition of the president's visit. i appeal this subcommittee appeals for the unconditional
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release of nguyen van da. and i encourage the president to meet with those who share democracy and human rights in vietnam. doing so sends a clear message that the u.s. interest, the fast majority of the vietnam were born after the vietnam war ended. they should make it clear also if the further expansion of trade and security prips -- partnerships -- is unacceptable until there is significant, verifiable irreversible opinions in vietnam. for the past seven years, the administration has failed to deliver such messages to victims of abuse anywhere. no tough message was delivered anywhere. in cuba for example,
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escalculation of wrath and abuse. they are lifting the ban on lethal arm sales to vietnam without imposing any real conditions. that would be a colossal mistake. the argument is lifting the trade barriers and expanding engagement with vietnam will ring about human rights and other positive advances. such arguments have been discredited. in china, there is evidence efforts have failed in vietnam as well. in 2007, the united states lifted its long-standing objection to vietnam's membership in the world trade organization, they launched the first of three waves of arrest that jailed more than a hundred people and introduced sweeping new laws restricting freedom of association, assembly and the
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internet. in short, it allowed the communist government to jail, torture and abuse. the pressure was off. they will continue to repress those seeking universal form and freedom. they are repressing those who challenge their power. they will not embrace human right improvements or the rule of law unless it is a condition of better relation with the united states. vietnam needs the u.s. markets and security commitments much more than the united states needs vietnam's markets and security cooperation. the administration should demand additional protection for human right, internet freedom, and the rule of law as a condition of u.s. visits.
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not doing so is shortsided, misguided, and fails to achieve long-term u.s.' interest and throws the victims under the bus. hr-40 is waiting further action in the house and senate. i would note i introduced the vietnam human rights act has passed the house three times only to be ignored by the senate. we cannot not increase the assistance to vietnam until the president certifies the government of vietnam has made progress in establishing human rights protections. the american people should not
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subsidize torture, or under write religious leaders, or advocates of democracy or int internet freedom. this act will restore the right policies to vietnam. the communist party is not vietnam's future. that lies with nguyen van da and many advocates of political reform and rights who seek freedoms more than our trade. u.s. policy must send the unmistakable message to the government of vietnam that human rights are fundamental. critically linked to security interest, and will not be ignored or be bargained away. i would like to now introduce our very distinguished witness toda
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vu is a volunteer at a church and has been doing so since 2009. the church reaches out to many vulnerable groups including orphans, those who suffer from drug addiction, and youth. in addition to providing support to those groups, vu assist with the daily management of the organization and works to protect human rights through the church.
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i would like to yield to our distinguished chairman of the committee. >> i would just start by thanking chris smith for holding this hearing at the right time. now is the time to get the attention on these human rights abuses. in a few weeks, the president is going to travel to vietnam and while maintaining peace in the south china see and improving trade ties is an important goal, the administration must take into account vietnam's human rights abuses as this relationship develops and that is the conundrum. this has not gotten better. i have met with the general as well as one of the other religious leaders in vietnam when they were under house arrest. i check in with human rights
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ngo's and as we know this situation is not improving. no matter ow this frames the relationship, the reality is that vietnam is a one party communist state with significant human rights abuses. and as we will hear today from the wife of an imprisoned human rights lawyer and activist and i want to thank chris smith for his efforts to elevate this issue, but as we will hear, nguyen van da will share that vietnam has a long way to go. in december, nguyen van da was badly beaten by government and
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her husband has been taken into custody and been denied access to a lawyer and is in solitary confinement. his condition is unknown. sadly, nguyen van da treatment is far from an isolated incid t incident. according to human rights watch, police frequently torture suspects to elicit protest over contributions, land confiscation and other social issues. last year, more than 40 blogers and rights activist were beaten by plain clothed government agents.
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their penal code aall -- allow the abuse. there are blogers who remain in prison for their advocating of human rights. in prison for what the state calls abusing the rights to freedom of democracy. not surprisingly, vietnam now ranks 175th out of 180 countries for repressed freedom. that means vietnam is behind cuba, worse than saudi arabia, and worse than iran.
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that that is wie we are here at this hearing. freedom of religious is a restricted through registration requirements, harassment, surveillance, branches of the cow die and other churches and independent catholics and prod stents are banned. if the united states and vietnam build a relationship, the government of vietnam must allow freedom of speech, religious, and assembly. that is the message the president of the united states needs to send during his upcoming visit.
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i wrote to the president last week asking that he carry exactly that message. we are all watching. the president's trip can't be a replay of his trip to havana. we have to have these issues addressed. and thank you, mr. chairman, for calling the hearing again. >> thank you for your continued support for human rights in vietnam especially for today for nguyen van da who is suffering and four years of house arrest and without objection, a well written appeal at the time of the first arrest. i would like to make it part of the record and yield the floor
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to ms. vu. [speaking in native tongue] >> first of all, i would like to deeply thank chairman christmas and chairman royce for giving me this precious opportunity to speak. [speaking in native tongue]
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my name is nguyen van da and i am wife of nguyen van da who is in jail. >> my husband was first arrested in 2007 and then sentenced to four years imprisonment and four years of house arrest for violating 88 of the potential code for quote unquote conducting propaganda against the state.
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my husband was disbarred and his law office shutdown. [speaking in native tongue] >> after having just completed his house arrest, my husband was arrested again on december 16th, 2015 and charged under the same article 88. my husband had been detained for almost five months yet i have not received any information about him. he has been held in private and not allowed to meet with my family, myself nor his defense lawyers. [speaking in native tongue]
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>> twice a month, i am permitted to bring food to the detention center for his daily needs but i don't know if he has received any. in fact, i honestly do not know if he is really held at 14 because in vietnam the public security force can do whatever they want. if they transfer inmates they don't inform the family members accordingly. for example, this has happened to current blogers. if my husband has been tortured
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physically or mentally i would not know. [speaking in native tongue [ >> my husband hasn't been alloweded to receive a bible that was a gift to him. --
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>> he was attacked and before his injuries were healed he was arrested on the 16th. [speaking in nativ >> interpreter: throughout this human rights activism, my husband was constantly followed, threatened, harassed and beaten. each time he was attacked it related to his work because the government didn't like it and
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had requested him to stop doing human rights work. however, my husband believes that his activities are within this rights understood the vietnam constitution and international law because the police follow my husband all day, i believe that the vietnam government knows who attacked him but the government claims they don't know who the assailants were when my husband filled a complaint. my husband accepted the high risk that come with these realities and this is the retally human rights activist have to face in vietnam constantly. [speaking in native tongue] >> interpreter: my husband also has hepatitis b so i am very worried about his health conditions. [speaking in native tongue]
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>> interpreter: my husband experienced democracy in germany having witnesses the fall of the berlin wall. he ran for the national assembly with the hope he could speak up for the people. in 2000, my husband began his activism and fought for freedom of religion. the first human rights case my husband took was in 2000 when he defended a member of church who
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was brought to court because she tried to stop the police when they tried to expand employer service at the local church. [speaking unnative tongue] >> interpreter: my husband provided service to the christians who were oppressed on their religion. those who fought for democracy and human rights are harassed and contained and victims of land grabs and two people were physically attacked and arbitrarily detained. he led training courses about human rights at his law office. [speaking in native tongue]
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>> interpreter: since starting his activism in 2000 aside from the four years in prison, he fought for human rights even when he was still under house arrest. he always tried to fight for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly to non-violent methods and
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providing education on human rights. my husband always focuses on empowering the youth and helped many students who are human rights activists. he starts classes on human rights with different people in society and wrote articles on the rule of law, my husband usually worked with many others and connected organizations with each other within the country. he also advocatiadvocated with governments as they had a good working relationship with many in vietnam and government officials around the world. [speaking in native tongue] >> interpreter: regarding my husband's arrest in 2007, the police arrested him at his law office while me was teaching a
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class on human rights. the topic of the class was based on a book on civil society which the american embassy in vietnam had published. [speaking in native tongue] >> interpreter: after his arrest, it was while he was leaving the house to meet with the delegation from the european union who were in vietnam for the annual human rights dialogue. [speaking in native tongue] >> my husband is currently facing from 3-20 years imprisonment. [speaking in native tongue] >> interpreter: he has worked
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hard to protect human rights, and these activities cannot possible be seen as criminal. therefore, i hope that congress and the u.s. government especially president obama on his trip to vietnam will help demand for his immediate and unconditional release. [speaking in native tongue] >> interpreter: i sincerely thank you for spending time to listen to my husband's case. respectfully. >> ms. vu, i would like to thank you for your absolutely compelling testimony that will be heard by many in america and hopefully around the world. as you have been telling your story, i am glad other news outlets have, not only carried your opt-eds and your very profound words and sentiments, but know that the congress as
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we well. i want to thank c-span for being here so a larger audience will hear you and realize things are horrific for your husband. i have a couple questions and i would like to thank dr. ben for doing have the translation for us. deeply appreciate that. i have a couple questions. you know you point out in your testimony that your husband was arrested the second time as he was leaving the house for the european union. i am wondering, i believe the dialogues are essential. there are consequences to
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countries like vietnam, the government of vietnam, that commit egregious violations against their own people. the dialogue is great. we need to talk. no one is ever suggesting interactions between the two government but i am wondering if any of the members of the european parliament who are here for that dialogue have raised their voices in support of your husband after he was arrested, again in route to meet with them, to dialogue with them, about what the government is doing on human rights in vietnam?
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[speaking in native tongue] >> interpreter: i am not sure what transpired between t conversation between my husband and the european delegates who met with my husband prior to his arrest. after his arrest, they contacted me and met with me and showed a lot of support.
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>> that is so extremely important. this as a united word, and not just a united states speaking. i would hope as you point out in your testimony, that the continued gross mistreatment of your husband and others would bewhich the subject of the council where vietnam sits in a place of dig nity and members of the council. it is breath-takingly disturbing an abuser of human rights could be an arbiter of how well or poor other countries are doing. first fix your own house and get that in order. so we need to press the case there as well. let me ask you, how you have been treated by the authorities.
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your trying to get certificates has not been allowed. can you elaborate on that process and how you, yourself, have been treated when you advocate on behalf of your husband. [speaking in native tongue]
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>> so in short, after his arrest, when i hired three lawyers, they were refused to be able to to offer any assistance. for myself, i notice there is a camera following all of the activities in front of the house and i have tried to visit my husband and always deny to see my husband when he is in commune cato. i had requested to be able to
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bring him the bible or have visitation rights or for other family members to visit him but have been denied. i have written complaints but not received any verbal or written response. >> can you tell us to the best of your knowledge how your husband was treated in prison the first time? followed by four years of house arrest. what were the conditions in prison like? [speaking in native tongue]
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>> interpreter: to complete her previous statement, she wanted to say the harassment puts a strain on her and she knows her husband has hepatitis b and was beaten and she is worried about not being able to see him. in 2007, he was put in a very small cell with 60 other inmates, it was contaminated with water and they had to use socks to soap up the water. there was a lot of harassment from prisoners in the same cell and puts stress with constant observation and the government during his jail time. >> you mention he was beaten by thugs in the taxi or when he was cornered and they beat him around the face.
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did he require any kind of medical attention? [speaking in native tongue] >> interpreter: during the beating, my husband suffered a lot of hitting to the face and he had sustained hemorrhage to the eyes and was undergoing evaluation and then he was arrested.
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his body was also covered with bruises all over. >> has the american personal and embassy been helpful? have they tried to visit him? have they be allowed any access to him? made the attempt? [speaking in native tongue]
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>> interpreter: immediately after his arrest, i was invited to his private residences of the ambassador and he gave support and comfort and gave me a bible especially to give to my husband while he is in prison. however, when i brought the bible, it was denied so my husband never received the bible. in addition, the embassy mentioned i could meet with them at any time. >> let me just make a couple final observations and ask if you have anything further you would like to say, i can assure you i will continue your efforts, i see dr. tom is here, and his law offices, and even
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though he spoke glowingly about his vision of a vietnam where everyone posesed fundamentally recognized human rights, there is a total absence of malice on his part toward the people and the government. i mean when i hear that the government, as you have pointed out, has cited the potential code conducting propagandy against the state, i was with him. some people in route, were detaineded and not allowed to go to the law office that day to be with me. but, there was no propaganda against the state. there was a love for the people of vietnam that was deep and profound. i was almost speechless how we could have endured so much knowing about so much wrongdoing
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and yet he spoke about human rights in the most purest of terms and with such a clarity of purpose about him. so the government of vietnam needs to know we are inspired by nguyen van da and growing members of parliament, congress, will rally to his defense and your testimony has sent a clear message to the world, not just at this venue, but everywhere else you have spoken, how can a government do what they are doing to your husband, who only desires the best for the country of vietnam. so i want you to know you have been an inspiration and he has been an inspiration but i know with mr. da and dr. tong, a year later, again, i was touched by
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the law office with that absence of malice. he did not engage in tirades against vietnam or its government. he spoke about defending human rights and carrying for the disenfranchised and the people of faith which i found incredibly. i do hope that is not lost. there are also reformers in any dictatorship or repressive government that need to know when he is away from them, when he is talking to members of parliament in his office or washington, his message is one of hope for the people of vietnam. so i want you to know what an inspiration your president is here today. if president obama were sitting here, where i am sitting, or if the prime minister of vietnam was sitting here, what would you say?
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[speaking in native tongue]
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>> interpreter: mr. president, we are sitting here in front me, i would plead with lim to help the people of vietnam. when he fights for the vietnam he fights for the people. the people of vietnam have suffered many years and now if the president could promote human rights in vietnam that is what i would ask for. the reason they arrested my husband and now i am asking for his release while the president is there is because he would
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represent a symbol of non-violent fighting and that is why his release would be crucial for the people of vietnam and that would be symbolic of the president's support for such movement in vietnam. and as requested, i have a few more points to add, please. [speaking in native tongue]
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[spe [speaking in native tongue] >> interpreter: i would like to present to you mr. chairman but i would like to plead the case of my husband. also, when they came to the house they took away the issue of civil society that was published and they took away
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anything my husband has from the human relations. it represents peace and non violent movement for human righ rights. one particular thing i would like to point out is all of the t-shirts that have the word honk honk today, vietnam tomorrow, were taken as an artifact by my husband. [speaking vietnamese]
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[speaking vietnamese] >> interpreter: to show with you my thoughts while i am hear, and first thank you so much for holding this hearing, this is very important, it is because back in 2007 i had written over a hundred complaints to
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different agencies and never heard anything back. this time, i have tried the same, written many complaints, and visited many of the agencies to try to see if anyone would respond to my request. none of them had responded in any way to me and i have met with a lot of obstruction and ignorance from these agencies. in addition, i feel that if i could go outside at my own risk and raise this voice to the world, i would be able to present my husband's case so more people would know about the situation in vietnam and that my husband is just one of the people in similar situations.
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[speaking vietnamese] [speaking vietnamese] [speaking vietnamese] [speaking vietnamese]
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[speaking vietnamese] >> interpreter: just to recount what happened in 2007, the lawyer only had seven days to prepare for his trial back then specifically when i went to the investigation unit, they had sent to papers to the judicial office but there is no clear evidence against my husband at that time so i am worried about a similar situation this time. [speaking vietnamese] [speaking vietnamese] >> interpreter: i am really worried if that repeats, that the lawyers for du will not have
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enough time to prepare the trial. [speaking vietnamese] [speaking vietnamese] >> interpreter: so i would like to request my husband be released unconditionally and immediately. in case he does go to trial i want a fair trial and for his lawyers to have the time to prepare for his case.
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[speaking vietnamese] [speaking vietnamese] >> interpreter: thank you chairman smith for holding this hearing. please accept by deep gratitude to all of the staff members that made it possible. i appreciate your caring and support throughout this difficult time for myself, my husband and family. i would like to know at the request of the chairman and other members of congress could
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write a letter to president obama asking for his response for this hearing and also to other re quests that have been put in my states. thank you. >> we will be more than happy to send your statement, and a letter encouraging the president and an appeal to the president to raise your husband's case and that of other prisoners in a specific fashion. there needs to be specific requests made so we can engage if vietnam is about to move in the right direction. there are a number of areas where human rights violations are worse than human trafficking and religious freedom and the administration today could assign vietnam as a cpc country, a country of particular concern,
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the facts warrant it. and they also could be known as a tier three country when it comes to egregious violation of sex and labor trafficking especially labor trafinging in vietnam. ... for your brave testimony and your husband's tremendous personal sacrifice for the cause of vietnam and the like and
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religious freedom. he is a remarkable man as are others who are fighting this battle with nonviolence. know that our prayers are with you and with him. we are in solidarity with him, i can assure you and i would like to note for the record we will be having a follow-up hearing to this hearing in mid june, the latter part of june around the 23rd or so and we will be assessing the president's trip and whether or not any progress was indeed made. i want to thank you so very much for your testimony. thank you for your very fine translation. the hearing is adjourned. thank you.
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[inaudible] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] hold on a second.
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how are you doing? you can go first and you'll go second. [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation]
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they made it very clear they want actions, not words. actions. they consider this a very serious and positive step. [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation]
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it's deteriorating and that's very troubling. the bilateral agreement, as well, there were great expectations. i was not that encouraged for things that would happen. as lotta people who saw vietnam as a turning point to start respecting human rights but quite the opposite is happening. they are in a nosedive when it comes to respecting the freedom and other fundamental human rights and that has to change. the people of vietnam are wonderful people, they deserve better. they want freedom from their own government. >> thank you. >> thank you. [inaudible conversation]
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nice to see you today, thank thank you. >> thanks for organizing this. [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation]
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[inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation]
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[inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] >> on saturdays "washington journal", the president of the major cds association m montgomery maryland please police chief discussed the rise of homicide in several u.s. cities. we'll talk to joseph wallner about puerto rico's debt crisis and what it means for state governments facing $1.3 trillion in pension liabilities. "washington journal" is live each morning at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> this sunday night on q&a, vanity fair columnist and slate magazine founder talk about his
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new book old-age, a beginner's guide on living with parkinson's disease. >> parkinson's is a brain disease. that was a nonsensical question. but, what i really meant, obviously was thinking, is it going to affect my thinking? thinking is how i earn a living because that became pretty important. i asked this neurologist, what's going to happen and he says, he's trying to tell me it wasn't such a big deal. he said you may lose your edge, as if that was just nothing. i thought my edge is how i earn a living. it's why i have my friends, maybe why i have my wife. >> sunday night at eight eastern
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and pacific on c-span q&a. >> at a conference on the vietnam war, former secretary of state henry kissinger discussed his role on the war saying he had no regrets about the decisions he made. he is interviewed by the director of the lbj presidential library in austin, texas. this part part of the conference is one hour 15 minutes. [applause]. welcome, it is a privilege to have you on this stage. one of the things i think most people don't realize is that you are not only the national security advisor and secretary of state to president nixon and sear

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