FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 3, 2020
USCIRF Encourages Religious Freedom Progress on Vietnam National Day
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) congratulated the government of Vietnam on its National Day, and encouraged the government to take steps to improve religious freedom conditions in the country.
“USCIRF commends both national and local authorities for working together to begin to help Hmong Christians in Dam Rong District, who have been rendered effectively stateless because of religious discrimination. However, this is only a first step,” USCIRF Commissioner James W. Carr stated. “We encourage the national government to work with authorities across the Central and Northern Highlands to assist other similarly situated groups. In addition, the Vietnamese government must address the religious discrimination that led to the displacement of these communities.”
For decades, local authorities in the Northern and Central Highlands have harassed Hmong and Montagnard Christians. According to human rights advocates, local authorities retaliated against these groups by refusing to issue identity cards and household registration, forcing thousands to flee to other parts of Vietnam. In January 2020, the government of Dam Rong District in Lam Dong Province announced plans to resettle 79 Hmong Christian households—521 residents—in Subdivision 179 who had been evicted from their villages. The plans include $3.3 million in funding and infrastructure construction, including roads and a medical clinic.
“USCIRF welcomes Vietnam’s progress, but we remain deeply concerned about the harassment of unregistered religious groups and religious freedom advocates,” noted USCIRF Vice Chair Anurima Bhargava. “We urge the government of Vietnam to release all individuals detained because of the peaceful expression of their beliefs, including Nguyen Bac Truyen and Pastor A Dao.”
Commissioner Carr and Vice Chair Bhargava advocate for Pastor A Dao and Nguyen Bac Truyen, respectively, as part of USCIRF's Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project.
In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF called upon the U.S. government to increase funding for religious freedom projects in Vietnam. In September 2019, a USCIRF delegation visited Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in order to assess the implementation of the Law on Belief and Religion. In June 2020, USCIRF released a country update about religious prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at firstname.lastname@example.org or Danielle Ashbahian at email@example.com.