UỶ BAN VẬN ĐỘNG ÐƯA CSVN TRỞ LẠI DANH SÁCH CPC
PO BOX 729, Garden Grove, CA 92842-0729 ◊ Tel: 714-398-9641 & 714-261-6490
Web: tudotongiao.wordpress.com ◊ email: firstname.lastname@example.org
VOICES OF VIETNAMESE AMERICANS and THE PEOPLE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN VIET NAM
January 27, 2011
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Re: Designate Vietnam again as a Country of Particular Concern.
Dear Madam Secretary,
We are the People For Religious Freedom In Vietnam Committee and various Vietnamese community organizations, associations, foundations, movements, groups representing Vietnamese Americans throughout the United States, respectfully request the State Department to place the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (“SRVN”) back to the “Countries of Particular Concern” list for its systematic, continuous and egregious violations of religious freedom as cited in the 2010 Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Since the removal of Vietnam from the CPC list in 2006, we witnessed continuous deterioration of religious freedom conditions in Vietnam. To this date, the government of Vietnam has shown its firm stance on controlling every religious organizations and marching toward eliminating any independent religious groups. And as you know, this intention of Vietnam government is not to protect and respect religious freedom.
In its 2010 Annual Report, the USCIRF reported that SRVN continues to control religious communities, severely restrict religious practices of many independent religious groups, and repress individuals and groups viewed as challenging the authority. Religious leaders, such as the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Arch Bishop Ngo Quang Kiet, Bishop Hoang Duc Oanh, Father Nguyen Van Ly, Reverend Nguyen Cong Chinh, Reverend Nguyen Hong Quang and other individuals are either under house arrest, being held in prison, or suffered constant harassments from the security police for their religious activity or religious freedom advocacy. Two hundred and thirty nine monks affiliated with the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) signing a letter to oppose SRVN’s action toward the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do and, as a result, were threatened and forced to meet with the security police in repeated “working sessions.”
In January 2010, the security police at Dong Chiem destroyed religious statues and a crucifix. Some parishioners and clergies suffered severe injuries from the beating conducted by the police.
In May 2010 at Con Dau parish, the police forcibly dispersed a Catholic funeral ceremony. One Catholic follower was beaten to death. 40 Catholic followers had to flee their home land to seek refuge and asylum in Thailand.
In November 2010, Bishop Hoang Duc Oanh of Kontum Diocese reported that himself and his Catholic followers in various remote areas have been obstructed, harassed, questioned and threatened while trying to conduct Masses for the local followers.
Others arrested during 2010 are being held incommunicado, including Rev. Dương Kim Khải, Attorney Cu Huy Ha Vu, Prof. Pham Minh Hoang, Blogger Phan Thanh Hai, and dissident Vi Duc Hoi. The most recent attack and beating of US diplomat Christian Marchant is an obvious and grave violation of human rights and international laws.
In October 2009, the Bat Nha Buddhists monastery in Lam Dong province was attacked by government thugs. About 400 monks and nuns were physically abused and forcibly evicted from the monastery.
Members of the independent Hoa Hao Central Buddhist Church (HHCBC) face significant official repression. There were reports of confiscation and destruction of HHCBC affiliated buildings and worship venues. HHCBC leaders and their followers have been arrested for distributing religious materials and conducting ceremonies. At least 12 members of the HHCBC were arrested and sentenced for protesting religious freedom restrictions.
The Vietnamese government’s ongoing repression of the language, culture, and religion of ethnic Khmer living in Vietnam has led to growing resentment in the Mekong Delta. Some Khmer Buddhists have called for a separate religious organization, distinct from the government-approved Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha (VBS.)
Both the Cao Dai and Hoa Hao groups reported ongoing government oversight and control of their communities’ internal affairs, including their rituals, celebrations, funerals, and selection of religious leaders. On April 30, 2010, the People Committee of My Long Village demolished My An Caodaist Temple to wipe out this historic temple forever.
In Gia Lai province district, 11 Montagnard Protestants were detained in February 2009 after police reportedly entered a worship service and asked everyone present to renounce their faith or join the government controlled Southern Evangelical Church of Vietnam (SECV). Everyone who refused was arrested. In Dak Lak province, there was active harassment of independent Protestant groups who were suspected of affiliation with the banned Tin Lanh Dega (Dega Protestant Church). Montagnard Protestant Y Ben Hdok died while in detention at a provincial police station in Dak Lak province in May 2008.
In 2008, SRVN had repressed and beaten the Catholics faithful in Thai Ha Redemptionist Monastery, Tam Toa, Loan Ly and Bau Sen.
The USCIRF further reported the inconsistency of the laws and orders that SRVN officials and police are not held fully accountable for abuses; independent religious activities remain illegal; legal protections for government-approved religious organizations are both vague and subject to arbitrary or discriminatory interpretations based on political factors; and new converts to some Protestants and Buddhist communities faced discriminations and pressures to renounce their faith. In addition, improvements experienced by some religious communities are not experienced by others, including the UBCV, independent Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, some Protestant groups, some ethnic minority Protestants and Khmer Krom Buddhists. Property disputes between the government and the Catholic Church continue to lead to harassments, property destructions, and violence, sometimes by “contract thugs” hired by SRVN to break up peaceful prayer vigils.
The USCIRF also reported many human rights violations such as the harassments, threatening, detentions or sentencing of lawyers and human rights defenders who have assisted religious communities in defending cases against the state.
As the State Department prepares to review the religious freedom violations in Vietnam in the coming weeks, we urge you to consider religious freedom as one of the core considerations in our foreign policy and national security. The United States must redouble its efforts to raise these concerns at the highest levels of the world community. Anything less will betray our core values, and send a mixed signal to the world on our national wish to shed lights of human rights for all people.
In the past, the State Department officials met with their Vietnamese counterparts and issued some public statements. In the end, nothing had changed in Vietnam, except that the oppressions and persecutions continued to escalate. The State department needs to show that the American people always stand side‑by‑side with the Vietnamese people to ask for a very fundamental right: the right to freely practice one’s faith.
In reviewing the frequent and severe religious freedom violations by SRVN, we hope that you will come to the conclusion that Vietnam should be listed as a “Country of Particular Concern” again. We are looking forward to see the State Department taking a stronger stand on the religious freedom issue and imposing all necessary sanction measures to help end religious freedom violations by the SRVN.
Besides asking the State Department to add SRVN to the CPC list, we also request that our government, within its power, to urge SRVN to:
- Release immediately religious prisoners such as Pastor Duong Kim Khai, Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang and Ms. Mai Thi Dung;
- Stop all practices of religious oppressions under all “masking” tactics;
- Return the disputed lands of Thai Ha, Tam Toa, Loan Ly, Dong Chiem to their rightful owners;
- Stop all house-arrest orders and all forms of harassments on Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Arch Bishop Ngo Quang Kiet, Father Nguyen Van Ly and Rev. Nguyen Cong Chinh.
The Vietnamese Americans are anxiously waiting for the State Department’s consideration in designating SRVN as a Country of Particular Concern in order to stop violation of freedom of religion rights and bring religious freedom in reality in Vietnam.
Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter.
Lac Tan Nguyen
People for Religious Freedom in Vietnam Committee
12755 Brookhurst St. Ste. 104, Garden Grove, CA 92840; 714.261.6490, 714.398.9641 www.tudotongiao.wordpress.com, email: email@example.com
Partial list of Vietnamese American organizations supporting this issue by the order of endorsement received (first phase, updated to Jan 31, 2011)
1. Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California, Mr. Neil Xuan-Nghia Nguyen, Esq.
14550 Magnolia St., Ste. 203, Westminster, CA 92683; firstname.lastname@example.org, 714.423.8888
2. The Vietnamese American Community of Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia; Mr. Anh Hong Do, 6131 Willston Dr., Ste. E, Falls Church, VA 22044, email@example.com, 703.373.9333.
3. Vietnamese Community of Greater Cleveland, Mr. Lễ Hữu Nguyễn, 6516 Detroit Ave., Ste.15, Ohio 44102, firstname.lastname@example.org, 216.664.2319.
5. Vietnamese Refugees Community in Los Angeles; Mr. Long Nguyen, P.O. BOX, 7694, Torrance, CA, 90504 email@example.com, 310.381.9629.
6. Vietnamese Community of San Diego, Mr. Luc Van Nguyen, P.O. BOX 710701, San Diego, CA 92126858-699-7985, firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. Vietnamese Refugees Community in Los Angeles; Mr. Long Nguyen, P.O. BOX, 7694, Torrance, CA, 90504, email@example.com, 310.381.9629
8. Vietnamese Community of Pomona Valley; Dr. Huu Dinh Vo,
1182 E. Holt Ave., Pomona, CA 91767; 909.623.8502 or 714-928-3038
Please see attached paper for complete list of Vietnamese American organizations supporting this issue.