News / Asia

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Heiner Bielefeldt, a U.N. special rapporteur on religious freedom, has found violations in Vietnam, he says in Hanoi July 31, 2014.
Heiner Bielefeldt, a U.N. special rapporteur on religious freedom, has found violations in Vietnam, he says in Hanoi July 31, 2014.
Marianne Brown

A United Nations representative on a fact-finding mission in Vietnam has found evidence of serious violations of religious freedoms.

Heiner Bielefeldt, special rapporteur on religious freedom, said at a Thursday press conference in Hanoi that some of the people he wanted to meet during his 10-day fact-finding mission were under heavy surveillance, intimidated or prevented from travelling by police.

“I was eyewitness to some acts … of intimidation, harassment [and] monitoring of private conversations,” Bielefeldt told journalists, declining to share details at the news conference.

Religious groups must register with the government to meet. Currently, Vietnam has roughly a dozen recognized religions, with 37 affiliated religious organizations, up from 34 in 2010.

Violations of religious freedom particularly affect independent groups of Buddhists, including Hoa Hao-Buddhists, as well as the Cao Dai religion, some Protestant communities and activists within the Catholic Church, Bielefeldt said.

However, even people from government-sanctioned groups such as the Fatherland Front reported problems or an awareness of them.

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