Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng. — VNA/VNS Photo An Đăng
HÀ NỘI — The International Religious Freedom Report for 2016 recently issued by the US Department of State once again does not reflect correctly the state of religious practice and belief in Việt Nam, nor the country’s achievements in ensuring the right to freedom of religion.
Although the report acknowledges that Việt Nam made progress in ensuring religious freedom, it still adheres to dated views and one-sided and subjective assessments about religion in Việt Nam.
The right to freedom of religion and belief is clearly stipulated in Việt Nam’s Constitution and safeguarded by its laws. The legal foundation for freedom of religion and belief has also made significant strides. Together with the 2013 Constitution, the 2004 Ordinance No 21 on belief and region and the 2012 Decree No 92 on the enforcement of Ordinance No 21, the National Assembly passed a Law on Belief and Religion in November 2016, which is scheduled to officially take effect on January 1, 2018.
To date, Việt Nam has recognised and granted licences to 39 religious organisations with over 24 million followers, or 27 per cent of the country’s population. The country has nearly 53,000 religious dignitaries, and 28,000 worship facilities.
Religious activities are held without obstruction, and festivals of various religions are held in accordance with religious norms and attract the participation of many followers.
In addition, the training of dignitaries and monks has been maintained and expanded. Many dignitaries and monks have been sent to receive training in the US, France, Italy and India. Religious representatives have also attended faith dialogues and discussions at major international forums, such as the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Việt Nam established its relations with the Vatican in 1989, and the latter assigned a non-permanent representative to Việt Nam since 2011. International religion and human rights organisations have visited and conducted fact-finding tours to Việt Nam many times, and then acknowledged the country’s efforts to ensure human rights, including the right to freedom of religion and belief.
Notably, Việt Nam was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council in the 2014-16 tenure with the highest number of votes, reflecting the world’s acknowledgement of the country’s policies and efforts in ensuring human rights, including the right to freedom of religion and belief.
The Vietnamese Party and State always respect the right to freedom of religion and belief of all citizens, but do not allow abuse of those freedoms or exploitation of a belief or religion to violate the law.
Việt Nam is determined to fight and prevent all activities that violate its laws, take advantage of a religion or belief to create social disorder, undermine the great national unity, undermine the Party and State, hurt the nation’s interests and hinder its development and international integration.
Like all other nations around the world, including the US, the Vietnamese State does not allow religious acvitity that violates its laws. In the US itself, many state laws clearly stipulate outlawed anti-government activities along with corresponding punishment. Any individual or organisation assembling unlawfully or inciting terrorism and violence in the name of religion are punished as regulated by US law.
Therefore, it is time for the US Department of State to take a comprehensive and objective view and respect the truth about the state of religious practice in Việt Nam, in accordance with the constructive development of the two countries’ relations. — VNS
US’s religious report gives wrong information about VN
The 2016 International Religious Freedom Annual Report of the US State Department still included some unobjective assessments and cited wrong information about Việt Nam, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng.
She made the remark at the ministry’s regular press conference in Hà Nội on Thursday in response to a question regarding the US State Department’s release of the 2016 International Religious Freedom Annual Report.
Hằng clarified that “The consistent policy of the State of Việt Nam is to respect and ensure the freedom of belief and religion, and following or not following any religions. This was enshrined in the Constitution and law of Việt Nam and is ensured and respected in reality.”
That has created a very diverse life of religion and belief in Việt Nam, she said, adding that Vietnamese law bans any religious and belief discrimination.
“The State of Việt Nam has been implementing many concrete policies and measures to ensure that people fully benefit from the right to freedom of religion and belief, including the Law on Belief and Religion, which was approved by the National Assembly in November 2016 and will take effect in January 2018.”
“The 2016 International Religious Freedom Annual Report of the US State Department had some adjustments to match the reality in Việt Nam. However, it was a regret as the report still gave some subjective assessments and cited incorrect information about Việt Nam,” the spokeswoman stressed.
At the conference, Hằng also informed the press about several external activities of the country in the time ahead. — VNS