As we gather around the table for this year's Thanksgiving, our family will have something very special to celebrate: the release of Cuc Foshee from her imprisonment in Vietnam. Cuc was not with us for Thanksgiving last year; she spent that day as she spent every day of the last fourteen months, in a prison cell.
We have always loved the United States, but today we have a far greater appreciation for the freedom we Americans enjoy, and for the Court system that protects that freedom. Cuc Foshee has always spoken out strongly, as a citizen here in the United States, for what she believes: that democracy and human rights are things to which every person is entitled. She learned a hard lesson about how other countries work, and she was punished harshly in the country of her birth for her beliefs.
We would like to thank all of you who worked for Cuc's release. In particular we would like to recognize:
o Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, for his tireless efforts to do what was right and honorable. Cuc would not be home with us today were it not for him, and for the help of Senator Nelson.
o We also would like to thank Congressman Ric Keller of Florida, and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California who were instrumental in resolving Cuc's case. We are grateful to have the support of elected officials with the tenacity to pursue a just cause.
o We want to recognize the journalists who brought attention to this case, telling the pubic what was going on with Cuc. In particular we would like to thank John Carey of the Washington Times and the Peace and Freedom Blog (http://peace-and-freedom.blogspot.com/); Babita Persaud of the Orlando Sentinel; Jonathan Cunningham of the Orlando weekly; Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, as well as the many others who told this story.
o We greatly appreciate the support of the law firm of Holland and Knight, who worked with us on a pro bono basis. Their attorneys spent so many hours working on the case, doing what only a great law firm can do for a person in legal jeopardy. Liz's own Orlando-based law firm of Cooney, Mattson, P.A. supported her every step of the way
o We would like to express our appreciation to the State Department and the many wonderful people there who helped Cuc get through the tough times of her incarceration. Ms. Phuong of the U.S Embassy in Hanoi, and Mr. Martin Oppus from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon were especially supportive when she was most in need.
There were many others who were instrumental in getting Cuc released, including the thousands of people who signed her petition, and so many of the citizens of Cuc's home town of Orlando. Cuc is proud to live in such a wonderful and caring community.
President Bush is en route to Hanoi now. There, he will meet with many world leaders who are interested in doing business in Vietnam, and in drawing Vietnam into the greater world community. At this key time, we challenge the countries and the companies who will do business in Vietnam to do so ethically; and we call upon the Vietnamese government itself to rise to the standards of democracy and human rights that will earn them a rightful place in that world community.
Today, as we count our blessings for the return of our long-absent relative, we can't help but think of others in need. When we hear that Cong Thanh Do has listed scores of other political prisoners whose cases go unresolved, our sympathy for their families is sincere. When we hear Mike Benge of the Montagnard Human Rights Group speak, we are reminded that Cuc's release is just one step on the world's long journey to universal human rights.
We applaud Vietnam's economic progress, and the political progress which they have made; we look forward to ever stronger ties between the United States and Vietnam; above all we reaffirm how blessed we are to be Americans.
Liz McCausland (daughter of Cuc Foshee)
Robert Ende (brother-in-law of Cuc Foshee)