U.S. government-commissioned entity seeks to free prisoners of conscience in Vietnam

The United States Commission for International Religious Freedom reports an increase in the number of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam. Protestants and An Dan Dai Dao Buddhists make up the highest percentage, followed by Hoa Hao Buddhists and Catholics.

In 2004, the U.S. State Department designated Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern, or CPC. Small improvements in religious freedom conditions prompted the government to lift this designation in 2006.
Now, an alarming rise in the number of prisoners of conscience is prompting the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom, USCIRF, to urge the government to put Vietnam back on the list.
GAYLE MANCHIN
Vice Chair, USCIRF
“Religion in Vietnam remains heavily regulated under the Law on Belief and Religion, which went into effect in January 2018. While the law did introduce some positive changes, such as recognizing religious organizations as legal persons, it also requires religious groups to register with the government.”
This same law has also been used by Vietnamese authorities to crack down on religious ceremonies. It’s part of the government’s wider attempt to subdue human rights defenders, even those who advocate peacefully, like Nguyen Bac Truyen and Pastor A Dao.
GAYLE MANCHIN
Vice Chair, USCIRF
“Mr. Truyen is a Hoa Hao Buddhist who advocated on behalf of religious communities and prisoners of conscience. In April 2018, he was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment. Pastor A Dao led an unregistered church for Montagnard Christians. He was arrested and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.”
Now USCIRF is actively working to obtain both men’s liberation.
GAYLE MANCHIN
Vice Chair, USCIRF
“In the meantime, we urge the government to allow U.S. diplomats to visit them in prison, to ensure that they are being well-treated and that their medical needs are being met.”
According to the annual report, Protestants and An Dan Dai Dao Buddhists make up the highest percentage of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, followed by Hoa Hao Buddhists and Catholics. Regardless of individual religious beliefs, USCIRF continues to support those whose fundamental freedoms have been violated.