Monday, July 13 2020

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Việt Nam slams 'inaccurate, unverified' information in US' international religious freedom report

Update: June, 11/2020 - 21:20
Foreign ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng at Thursday's press briefing in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Lâm Khánh

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam’s foreign ministry spoke out against the inaccuracies contained within the 2019 Report on International Religious Freedom by the US State Department released on Wednesday. 

“As we have repeatedly reaffirmed, Việt Nam’s consistent policy is to respect and ensure the rights to freedom of religions and beliefs as well as freedom of non-religion or non-beliefs of its citizens,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng said on Thursday in a press briefing in Hà Nội. 

“This has been demonstrated clearly in Việt Nam’s Constitution and legal system and has been observed in real life,” Hằng continued.  

In recent times, Việt Nam has always worked to improve its policies on religion and belief, including the passing of the Law on Religion and Belief and accompanying decrees detailing the implementation of the law. 

Currently, Việt Nam has 43 registered organisations under 16 religions that have been granted operating licences, with 55,000 religious dignitaries, 145,000 employees and 29,000 places of worship. 

Up to 95 per cent of the Vietnamese population exercise some forms of religion or beliefs, including 26 million believers, accounting for around 27 per cent of the whole population, Hằng said, adding that annually, there are 8,000 religious festivals held that attract large gatherings of not only believers but also the public. 

In particular, many major international religious activities have been successfully organised in Việt Nam, including the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in HCM City in 2017 and the United Nations Day of Vesak in May 2019.

Hằng said these efforts have been recognised and appreciated by the international community. 

“We recognise that the US Department of States has mentioned achievements and improvements Việt Nam has made in the ensuring and promoting religion in Việt Nam, however, the 2019 report still contains inaccurate and unverified information regarding the situation in Việt Nam,” the foreign ministry spokesperson said. 

Việt Nam will continue to maintain and stands ready to enhance cooperation and exchanges with the US side on issues of mutual concerns in the spirit of frankness, openness and mutual respect, via bilateral dialogues, including the annual human rights dialogues, to help foster the comprehensive partnership between the two countries, according to Hằng. — VNS

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