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Rights Group Accuses Vietnam of Religious Repression

Catholics in traditional Vietnamese attire attend a Thanksgiving mass at the La Vang Basilica in Vietnam's central Quang Tri province, 6 Jan, 2011.

Human Rights Watch is calling on the United States to return Vietnam to its list of "countries of particular concern" for denying religious freedoms because of its persistent violation of the rights of its citizens.

The U.S.-based advocacy group singled out the communist nation in a press release Tuesday, one day after issuing its annual report on human rights practices in more than 90 countries and territories around the world.

The group says members of independent religious groups in Vietnam are subjected to repeated police harassment, and that several religious leaders have been detained. It says religious repression in Vietnam is "systematic, severe, and getting worse by the day."

The United States removed Vietnam from its list of countries of "particular concern" in 2006. The countries remaining on the list include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.