Conviction of Three Members of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam

7 Jan

Cale Brown, Principal Deputy Spokesperson

The United States is deeply concerned to learn of Vietnam’s conviction and sentencing of three members of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and Le Huu Minh Tuan, to 15, 11, and 11 years in prison respectively.

These harsh sentences are the latest in a troubling and accelerating trend of arrests and convictions of Vietnamese citizens exercising rights enshrined in Vietnam’s constitution.  The United States calls on the Vietnamese authorities to release all those unjustly detained and to allow all individuals in Vietnam to express their views freely, without fear of retaliation.  We urge the Vietnamese government to ensure its actions are consistent with the human rights provisions of Vietnam’s constitution and its international obligations and commitments.

Press freedom is fundamental to transparency and accountable governance.  Authors, bloggers, and journalists often do their work at great risk, and we urge governments and citizens worldwide to ensure their protection.

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Attacks on Yemeni Officials in Aden

31 Dec

Cale Brown, Principal Deputy Spokesperson

The United States strongly condemns the December 30 attacks in Aden that killed civilians and wounded many others.  We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and express our sympathies to the families of those killed.  The attacks were timed with the arrival of new Yemeni government officials and once again demonstrate the malicious intent of those trying to destabilize Yemen.  Such attacks will not stop or undermine efforts to bring a lasting peace that the Yemeni people deserve.  These violent acts must end, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.  The United States supports the legitimate government of Yemen and stands with the people of Yemen as they work towards a better future for all Yemenis.

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Passing of Niger’s Ambassador to the United States

19 Dec

Cale Brown, Principal Deputy Spokesperson

We are deeply saddened by the passing on December 16 of His Excellency Abdallah Wafy, Ambassador of Niger to the United States, and offer our sincere condolences to his family and all those who worked with him.  Ambassador Wafy was a valued partner and friend who worked tirelessly over the years in Washington, New York, and Niamey, to strengthen the relationship between our two countries.

Ambassador Wafy’s long career in law enforcement and diplomacy reflected his strong commitment to public service.  During his service with United Nations Peacekeeping missions and as Niger’s Ambassador to the United Nations and later to the United States, Ambassador Wafy advanced peace and security for both Niger and the wider region.  Through his leadership and skillful diplomacy, he increased understanding of the diversity of the countries of the Sahel and helped forge deeper bonds between Niger and the United States.

The Department of State honors Ambassador Wafy’s leadership and service.

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The United States Condemns the Kidnapping of Students in Kankara, Nigeria

17 Dec

Cale Brown, Principal Deputy Spokesperson

The United States condemns the violent kidnapping of over 300 boys from the Government Secondary Science School in Kankara, Katsina State on December 11. We offer our sincere sympathies to the families of the missing students and the security guard killed in the attack. School should be a safe place where children can learn and thrive.

The boys must be returned to their families immediately and those responsible for this attack held accountable to the full extent of the law.

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U.S. Position on Relocation of Rohingya Refugees to Bhasan Char

10 Dec

Cale Brown, Principal Deputy Spokesperson

The United States has long noted its appreciation for the Government of Bangladesh’s commitment to hosting the Rohingya refugees but is concerned about the relocation of 1,642 Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char and plans to carry out further relocations. The United States concurs with the UN that any such relocations must be fully voluntary and based on informed consent without pressure or coercion.

Bangladesh has stated that Rohingya refugees may return to camps on the mainland if they choose. The United States calls on the Government of Bangladesh to adhere to this commitment and demonstrate respect for the human rights of refugees relocated to Bhasan Char, including freedom of movement, by facilitating refugees’ ability to move to and from Cox’s Bazar. Refugees on Bhasan Char should have access to livelihoods and basic services, such as education and health care.

With the UN and likeminded donors, the United States has asked for Bangladesh to accept the UN’s offer of thorough and independent technical and protection assessments to determine the safety, feasibility, and desirability of relocating refugees there. Independent access to Bhasan Char will help to confirm whether refugees were relocated voluntarily and remain there voluntarily, and suitability of the site to withstand cyclones and seasonal flooding.

The United States also calls again upon Burma to create the conditions conducive for Rohingya refugees’ voluntary, safe, and dignified return. We are coordinating closely with the international community, in consultation with affected communities, to promote such efforts. The United States supports the pursuit of comprehensive solutions for Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons. We are the leading contributor of humanitarian assistance in response to the Rakhine State crisis, providing nearly $1.2 billion since the escalation of violence in August 2017, of which nearly $962 million is for programs inside Bangladesh; these programs provide support to host communities, as well as Rohingya refugees. On October 22, the United States hosted, together with the EU, UK, and UNHCR, a virtual donor conference entitled “Sustaining Support for the Rohingya Refugee Response” that attracted participation from 34 additional countries and generated nearly $600 million in funding announcements from 25 donors. We encourage the Government of Bangladesh to continue coordinating with the international community to ensure funding for this crisis response and to work toward durable solutions in a manner that is consistent with international norms and respects the human rights of each individual.

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On Latvia’s Actions to Constrain Hizballah

30 Nov

Cale Brown, Principal Deputy Spokesperson

The United States welcomes the Latvian government’s recent announcement that it considers Hizballah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.  Latvia supports U.S. implementation of sanctions related to Hizballah and has expressed a readiness to place national travel bans on individuals associated with Hizballah.

The continued announcements by countries in Europe, Latin America, and other regions of actions against the terrorist organization send a strong message to Hizballah and its backers in Iran that a new day is coming.  On this new day, Hizballah operatives will no longer be able to operate from European soil, and the European Union will follow the lead of a number of European governments by closing the loopholes opened up by the false distinction between Hizballah’s so-called military and political wings.

The simple fact is that Hizballah is a terrorist organization, root and branch.  The United States continues to call on all countries to take whatever action they can to prevent its operatives, recruiters, and financiers, from operating on their territories.

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Secretary Pompeo to Participate in the NATO Foreign Ministerial

30 Nov

Cale Brown, Principal Deputy Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will take part in the virtual NATO Foreign Ministerial December 1-2, 2020.  The Secretary will join Allied foreign ministers to discuss the challenges to Transatlantic security, including an evolving threat environment.

Over these two days, Secretary Pompeo will reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the NATO Alliance, which has ensured peace and prosperity for more than seven decades.  The Secretary and his counterparts from NATO and partner countries will highlight the Alliance’s successes and discuss current issues, including increasing our joint security capabilities and reaffirming the centrality of our Transatlantic values through the Forward-Looking Reflection Process for NATO 2030, strengthening the NATO mission in Iraq, and bolstering our capabilities to meet future challenges such as cyber defense and global pandemics.

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