Dear Mr. Do,
I am disappointed that you chose to write to my boss before checking the facts with me. I have always been straight-forward and respectful, and I expect the same in return.
Ambassador Osius made a point of visiting California during his recent trip back to the United States in order to meet with members of the Vietnamese-American community, hear their thoughts and concerns about U.S.-Vietnam relations, and explain our current policy, recognizing the tremendous contributions the Vietnamese-American community has made to our bilateral relationship.
The Ambassador had very substantive discussions, and listened carefully to the views and suggestions of the Vietnamese-Americans he met. As can be seen in this YouTube video ( https://l.facebook.com/l/UAQGDG7nSAQHSR62TGYtZtad5oX0bG5QjisBYpn8imLLhKg/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DbAfmBLbowbs – correct one?), Ambassador Osius was always polite and respectful, including in an exchange with a woman wearing the south Vietnamese flag. The Ambassador told her he respected the symbol and her right to display it, but also noted that, as the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, he preferred not to be photographed with it given the potential sensitivities. On no occasion, though, did he forbid anyone to display the flag or ask for all flags to be removed from the venues. Displaying the flag is obviously their lawful and legitimate right as American citizens.
Thank you again for your letter. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. We look forward to continuing to work closely with you.
Image: Former US Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear with the flag of RVN
Mr. Do’s reply
Dear Mr. Osius,
Thank you very much for your quick response. Our complaint based on the facts
(1) At your meeting with Vietnamese community in San Jose, an attendee, Ms. Do Minh Ngoc, was asked to remove the neck ribbon featuring the flags of the United States and Republic of Vietnam upon arrival at the venue.
(2) An unidentified agent seized the ribbon and only gave back at the end of the session
(3) This agent’s action illustrated the State Department’s policy opposing the display of the yellow flag at public event
(4) and the Ambassador showed up in front of victims of Vietnamese Communists with the Communist flag in his lapel pin. This hurts our feelings.
We have proofs that other US Ambassadors to Vietnam had no problem wearing sign of Yellow Flag or took pictures with the flags (so did former President George Bush). Why the State Department’s policy reversed under Mr. John Kerry? We recall that Mr. John Kerry served a short term in Vietnam, and when he was back to the US, joined the anti-war movement to support the Viet Cong. “…. Kerry is also remembered as the Senate subcommittee chairman who blocked the Vietnam Human Rights Act after it passed 410-1 in the House two years ago…. “
We understand that there are differences between our agenda and the State Department’s objectives regarding Vietnam’s future. You are serving the interests of the US government and we are struggling for a free and democratic Vietnam. The Vietnamese people have been suffering for more than 70 years. We only want to remind any US officials that the majority of Vietnamese Americans are against the Communist regime. The evil Communist regime can only be replaced, not tamed as hope by our administration. It is the lesson we should learn from the Cold War. The Obama administration’s policy toward Vietnam and other tyranny and communist regimes is against the will of most freedom loving Americans, American veterans and Vietnamese American community. We are not the only community that question Obama and Kerry’s policy (similar to the case of Cuba to Cuban Community).
However, we respect your stand and appreciate your efforts in advocating human rights in Vietnam. We are looking forward to our cooperative and constructive works.