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ADF International urges Biden Administration to address religious persecution in Vietnam

ADF International urges Biden Administration to address religious persecution in Vietnam

  • ADF International and 70 international religious freedom groups and experts sent a letter to Biden Administration officials including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging them to “directly raise concerns with the Vietnamese leadership about their government’s antagonistic policies towards religions that do not submit to government control.”  
  • The letter was sent ahead of Blinken’s visit to Vietnam to mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership.  

WASHINGTON, DC (April 18, 2023) ADF International has joined 70 other international religious groups and leading experts in sending a letter to the Biden Administration urging relevant officials to address the persecution endured by religious minority groups in Vietnam. A joint letter, sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other officials earlier this week, sheds light on the state-backed persecution towards Christians and other religious minority groups in Vietnam.  

In the letter, the organizations and experts write: “Over the past twelve months, we have observed the rapid escalation of repressive measures against religious groups that resist government control. Of particular concern are the government’s intensifying efforts to force Christians to renounce their faith, crack down on house churches that do not submit themselves to government control, and coerce members of independent religious groups to join government-controlled religious organizations.” The letter can be found in full here.  

“No one should be persecuted, punished, or imprisoned for expressing their faith,” said Sean Nelson, Legal Counsel for Global Religious Freedom for ADF International. “Over the past year, we have seen an increase in serious government harassment towards religious minority faiths in Vietnam, especially Christians. The Biden Administration now has an opportunity to stand up for those most persecuted by addressing this situation directly with the Vietnamese government. We implore Secretary Blinken to take this opportunity to speak out in support of the people of Vietnam’s fundamental right to worship freely and live out their faith, without fear of punishment and persecution.” 


The letter was addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, and United States Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Marc Knapper.  

The letter raises multiple instances of unjust criminal charges, arbitrary detentions, and other serious government harassment towards religious minority faiths in Vietnam, especially Christians, over the past year. Some of these instances have involved “transnational repression” targeting Vietnamese individuals now residing in the U.S., including Pastor A Ga, the former leader of the Montagnard Evangelical Church of Christ in Vietnam. ADF International advocated for Pastor A Ga’s release from prison in Vietnam after he was imprisoned and tortured for his ministry. Video can be found here and below:

The letter also calls for the release of multiple religious prisoners of conscience in Vietnam and for the Vietnamese government to amend laws that are used abusively towards religious minorities. 

The letter was organized by the Vietnamese-American advocacy group, Boat People SOS, and signed by 70 international religious freedom organizations and experts, including former Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Katrina Lantos-Swett, as well as hundreds of Vietnamese refugees who have fled Vietnam. 

In November 2022, Vietnam was added to the U.S. State Department’s “Special Watch List” for its violations of religious freedom.

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Should religious freedom be protected in times of crisis?

“I support freedom of religious belief as a basic human right that deserves the highest level of protection.

I stand up against worship bans which are illiberal and non-democratic. Blanket bans on public worship are incompatible with the international human right to the communal exercise of religious freedom. Fundamental freedoms apply to all, and they must be protected rather than weakened in times of crisis.”