Commission Hearing on Religious-Freedom Violations in Vietnam, Indonesia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 1, 2001

Contact:
Lawrence J. Goodrich, Communications Director, (202) 523-3240, ext. 27

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom will hold two hearings on Tuesday, February 13 in Washington, D.C., to examine religious-freedom violations and U.S. policy in Vietnam and Indonesia. The hearings are scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Senate Dirksen Office Building, Room 124.

BACKGROUND

In Vietnam, the law provides for the extensive regulation of religious organizations by the state. Leaders and members of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, the Hoa Hao sect of Buddhism, the Cao Dai religion, as well as Protestants and Roman Catholics have been detained without charge, imprisoned, heavily fined, harassed, or subject to house arrest or government surveillance.

In Indonesia, current communal violence in the Moluccan Islands has reportedly claimed the lives of 5,000 to 8,000 Christians and Muslims since January 1999. There is evidence that the Indonesian government has not controlled its armed forces or the influx of armed Muslims from other islands, resulting in murder, forced mass resettlement, forced conversion to Islam (including involuntary circumcision), and torture.

The witnesses and schedule are as follows:

9:00 - 9:15 Welcome and Introductory Remarks by Chairman Elliott Abrams

9:15 - 10:30 Vietnam, Panel I: Situation Analysis

Witnesses

Zachary Abuza, Simmons College

Vo Van Ai, Buddhist Information Bureau

Huynh-Mai Nguyen, Hoa Hao Buddhist Church in the United States

Rev. Paul Ai, Former President, Evangelical Fellowship of Vietnam

Fr. Tadeus Nguyen Van Ly, Committee for Religious Freedom in Vietnam (invited)

10:30 - 10:45 Break

10:45 - 12:00 Vietnam, Panel II: U.S. Policy Options

Witnesses

Virginia Foote, U.S.-Vietnam Trade Council

Catharin Dalpino, Brookings Institution

Larry Wortzel, The Heritage Foundation

Carlyle Thayer, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies

12:00 - 1:15 Break

1:15 - 2:30,Indonesia, Panel I: Situation Analysis

Witnesses
Paul Michael, Taylor Smithsonian Institution
Robert Hefner, Boston University
H.M. Jusuf Ely Yayasan, Jaziratul Muluk (foundation for educational, health, and humanitarian services), Ambon, Indonesia
John Titaley, Satya Wacana Christian University, Salatiga, Indonesia

2:30 - 2:45 Break

2:45 - 4:00 Indonesia, Panel II: U.S. Policy Options

Witnesses

R. William Liddle, Ohio State University

Daniel Lev, University of Washington

Sidney Jones, Human Rights Watch

Paul Gardner, Former U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and the Congress." src="http://www.uscirf.org/images/layout/subbottomtext1.gif" />

Hon. Elliott Abrams,Chair
  • Dr. Firuz Kazemzadeh,Vice ChairRabbi David SapersteinLaila Al-Marayati, M.D.Hon. John R. BoltonDean Michael K. YoungArchbishop Theodore E. McCarrickNina SheaJustice Charles Z. SmithAmbassador Robert Seiple,Ex-OfficioSteven T. McFarland,Executive Director
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