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EU Should Not Ignore Human Rights Of Religious Minorities In Vietnam Trade Deal

This week, the European Parliament votes on the implementation of the EU-Vietnam trade agreements. Human rights experts have criticized the agreement and urged the Parliament to postpone the vote until Vietnam agrees to abide by its commitments under international law. These concerns come amid growing evidence of ongoing violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief in Vietnam and the government’s failure to protect Christians and other religious minorities.

“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. Christians and other religious minorities in Vietnam experience severe violations of their fundamental right to religious freedom ranging from harassment and intimidation to imprisonment, torture, and murder. Whole sections of society are functionally stateless simply because of their religion, as seen with the Montagnard and Hmong Christians. The rights of these minorities must never be sacrificed to promote economic gain through a trade deal. Though such agreements are important, they should ensure respect for international standards on freedom of religion and belief. We urge the European Parliament to show its commitment to human rights and postpone the trade agreement until Vietnam addresses its human rights record,” said Kelsey Zorzi, Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom for ADF International.

Persecution of Christians in Vietnam

In January 2018, Vietnam passed its first ever law on freedom of religion or belief. It requires religious groups to register to get permission to conduct a range of services and activities. Due to the complexity of the process, officials often use it to target Christians and other minority groups. They are arrested, tortured, and forced to renounce their faith. Some ethnic minority Christians are functionally stateless and evicted from their houses and villages. They are then refused residence upon registration when searching for a new place to live.

“Vietnam is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties, which commit the country to international standards on freedom of religion and belief. Recent reviews of Vietnam’s implementation of international human rights agreements show evidence of a dramatic failure in upholding these rights for Christians and other religious minorities. We urge the international community to act with urgency to end the plight of persecuted Christians around the world,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International.

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