Poorly objective comments on human rights situation in Việt Nam should be ended

July 08, 2024 - 13:30
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministry’s Spokesperson Phạm Thu Hằng said that Việt Nam is ready to work together with the US over matters of shared concern in the spirit of frankness, openness and mutual respect in contentious issues, thereby contributing to the enhancement of the Việt Nam - US Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
President Tô Lâm (front, seventh from right), religious dignitaries, and officials pose for a photo at the Presidential Palace in Hà Nội following their meeting on June 13. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Although the US Department of State’s 2023 Report on International Religious Freedom recognises some of the progress Việt Nam has made in protecting and promoting the freedom of religion and beliefs, it still gives poorly objective comments based on unverified and inaccurate information about the reality in the country.

The statement was highlighted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Spokesperson Phạm Thu Hằng at its recent regular press conference.

Responding to reporters’ questions on Việt Nam’s reaction to the report, which included putting Việt Nam on its special watch list, Hằng stated that Việt Nam is ready to work together with the US over matters of shared concern in the spirit of frankness, openness and mutual respect in contentious issues, thereby contributing to the enhancement of the Việt Nam – US Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

It can be affirmed that in Việt Nam, no one is discriminated against due to their religion or belief and the activities of religious organisations are guaranteed in accordance with the law.

As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country with a rich religious life, Việt Nam consistently pursues the policy of respecting and ensuring the right to the freedom of religion, with no one discriminated against on such grounds.

The operation of religious organisations are in line with legal regulations, with the rights are enshrined in Việt Nam’s Constitution 2013, the Law on Belief and Religion 2016 and other relevant legal documents and are respected.

Việt Nam’s achievements in ensuring human rights have been positively evaluated by the international community. During a dialogue on Việt Nam’s National Report under the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) fourth cycle in May, many countries recognised and hailed Việt Nam's policies, efforts and achievements in ensuring human rights, including the rights to the freedom of religion and belief.

They welcomed Việt Nam's achievements in economic developing, ensuring social justice, improving education to raise public awareness of human rights and promoting the rights of women, LGBT group, and ethnic minority communities.

At their working session with Vietnamese leaders last year, Pope Francis and the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin showed their impression at the positive growth, diversity and richness of the religious and belief life in Việt Nam, including the Catholic Church.

They agreed that the Catholic Church of Việt Nam should continue to implement the orientation of 'accompanying with the nation', and 'good Catholics are good citizens', encouraging Catholic dignitaries and followers to continue making positive contributions to the growth of the country and the church.

In his article entitled 'Derechos humanos en Vietnam: hechos, más que palabras' (Human rights in Việt Nam: facts, more than words), Moises Perez Mok, head of the Prensa Latina news agency’s bureau in Hà Nội highlighted Việt Nam’s undeniable progress in terms of promotion and protection of human rights, including the right to the freedom of religion and belief, for all.

In Việt Nam, the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech, as well as the right to access information are guaranteed, he wrote, noting that after 26 years of connecting to the Internet, Việt Nam has had a modern telecommunications system which is extremely popular and well used. As of September 2023, Việt Nam has 78 million Internet users, an increase of 21 per cent compared to the 2019 figure. The number of mobile broadband subscribers was 86.6 million, a rise of 38 per cent. There are currently about 72,000 associations operating in Việt Nam regularly, actively contributing to handling important economic and social issues of the country, he added.

The Prensa Latina veteran journalist made clear that Việt Nam respects and guarantees the freedom of belief or religion, as well as of association, which are the rights established from the founding of the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam (now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam) in 1945 and enshrined in the 2013 constitution.

There are 43 organisations associated to 16 religions in the country, with 26.7 million followers, nearly 60,000 dignitaries and 30,000 places of worship, together with a large number of religious publications, Moises Perez Mok noted.

Meanwhile, in his article published in The Independent, Grigory Trofimchuk, a Russian international political analyst who has spent many years researching Việt Nam, underscored that one of the most challenging aspects of human rights is religious issues. He affirmed that the religious life is completely open to the people in Việt Nam, confirming that up to 95 per cent of the population practise a belief or religion.

The country is home to 43 religious organisations from 16 different religions, with over 26.5 million followers, accounting for 27 per cent of the population, more than 54,000 dignitaries, over 135,000 assistants and nearly 30,000 places of worship, he noted. Many types of beliefs, and worship relic sites and objects have been recognised as world heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the author said.

Trofimchuk highlighted the diversity of the media landscape in Việt Nam, with one national news agency and 72 radio and television agencies, which, he said, confirmed the rights to freedom of speech, press and information in the country. The author also wrote that the right to life and the right to respect for human dignity and physical integrity in efforts to ensure human rights in Việt Nam.

Another undeniable truth in Việt Nam is the country’s active and proactive efforts in making numerous contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights in the region and the world. The clearest evidence for that is the high level of trust shown through a very high vote for Việt Nam to become a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the 2023-25 tenure and the international community’s high evaluation and recognition of Việt Nam’s various initiatives to ensure human rights, the rights of developing countries and the rights of disadvantaged groups.

Việt Nam has always affirmed the principle of dialogue, cooperation and respect of differences, while stressing that there is no single common model for all countries and each country has its own development path depending on its characteristics and conditions.

It is believed that it is time for US authorities to stop making poorly objective and inaccurate statements with prejudice on the actual situation of human rights and belief freedom in Việt Nam. Instead, they should discuss with Việt Nam issues of mutual concern in the spirit of openness, frankness and mutual respect to contribute to and promote the comprehensive strategic partnership for peace, cooperation and sustainable development between the two countries. VNS