Foreign embassies in Hanoi issue joint statement on religious freedom

Their comments came as groups across Vietnam complained of police harassment during a day of remembrance.
By RFA Vietnamese
Foreign embassies in Hanoi issue joint statement on religious freedom People praying at Cau Dong pagoda in Hanoi on May 26, 2021.

Seven embassies in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi have issued a joint statement marking Monday’s "International Day Commemorating Victims of Violence based on Religion or Belief."

The diplomatic missions of Austria, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States said they: "strongly condemn the continuing acts of violence against individuals based on religion or belief, including those belonging to religious minorities."

The statement was published in Vietnamese and English on the social media sites of the seven embassies to mark the religious freedom event, which has taken place on Aug. 22 every year since 2019.

It said respect for freedom of religion and belief plays an important role in combating xenophobia, narrow-mindedness and discrimination, as well as promoting peaceful and inclusive social development.

The statement noted that freedom of religion and belief is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations.

"On this important day, we would like to express our support for victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief, as well as their families and loved ones,” the statement said, adding: “We honor those who have suffered such acts of violence simply because they have implemented and defended human rights."

The seven embassies urged nations and individuals to join together to combat violence and discrimination and ensure that everyone is able to “enjoy their human rights in dignity and freedom.”

More than 50 religious communities across Vietnam held events on Monday, including Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants and members of Cao Dai 1926, which combines elements of Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity.

Some independent religious communities, such as Cao Dai 1926 and Protestants in the Central Highlands, were harassed by police and local authorities, who tried to stop them commemorating the day.

Vietnam joined the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2013, following government pledges to respect and promote human rights in the country but has failed to honor its promises.

In April this year a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom accused the Vietnamese government of religious persecution, especially of independent religious groups and ethnic minorities.

"Authorities continued to persecute independent religious communities, including Protestant Hmong and Montagnard Christians, Hoa Hao Buddhists, Unified Buddhists, Cao Dai followers and adherents of other religious movements such as Falun Gong, Duong Van Minh, the World Mission Society Church of God and Ha Mon," the report said, adding "The government designated many of these groups as 'strange,' 'evil,' or 'heretical' religions and often cited security grounds to suppress them, causing some, such as Ha Mon, to reportedly face extinction."


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