Friday, August 02, 2019, 14:33 (GMT+7)
Abusing the freedom of religion to incite and undermine the great unity bloc - an old same trick

The freedon of religion has become a focal area of hostile forces in their subversive strategies against Vietnam. They usually repeat their distortion that Vietnam Communist Party and State violate the freedom of relition of its people. The annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is such a kind.

Their consistent goal is to seperate religion against socialist regime; seperate religions from the great unity bloc of Vietnam’s revolution. Their tricks include: distorting the Party and State’s guidelines and policies on religion; make up and then condemn the authorities of discrimination and suppression against religions to incite and devide our people and discredit Vietnam in international arena, etc. They consider the religious extremists as “detonators” and core force in attracting and gathering ordinary people to counter the Party, the State, then draw the attention of international communities. Besides backing this forces, they also coordinate closely with individuals and bad-will international organizations to distort the freedom of religion in Vietnam.

As before, the 2019 annual report of USCIRF released on the 29th April, 2019 also wrongly assessed the freedom of religion in Vietnam. It said: religious freedom conditions in Vietnam trended negative, the overall situation for religious groups deteriorated in 2018; “the government of Vietnam continues to oppress religions, arrests the peaceful protestors claiming for freedom of belief and worship”, “Many religious groups are not recognized by the government and not licensed”, etc. These are same old statments that have been made up, distorted and repeated with bad intention. Since they can not deny the positives in religious life in our country, they reluctantly reported some achievements and progress in the promotion of the freedom of religion in Vietnam. However, the overwhelming and consistent content of the Report is still subjective and bias in favour of illegal activities which were conducted in the name of “fighting for the freedom of religion”, “democracy, human rights”, with an aim to intervening into Vietnam’s internal affairs, undermine the great unity bloc and destabilizing the country’s politics.

Then, why does USCIRF repeat these allegations? This is understandable. With the aim to overthrowing the socialist regime in Vietnam, they can not admit our socio-economic achievements as well as the progress in the freedom of religion in Vietnam. Because they are influenced by the rightist viepoints in the U.S politics, they are bound by and can not ascape from the prejudice against Vietnam. They did not see the whole truth about the freedom of religion in Vietnam but just based their statements on the informantion provided by internal dissidents and opponents, and the exiling reactionary groups who ususlly take adavantage of the matters of  “democracy, human rights, religion” to counter Vietnam. With such a bias, subjective and cold-war approach, USCIRF is running counter the Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Vision good relations between the U.S and Vietnam.

Each country has different views on the freedom of religion due to different custom and culture. Therefore, in order to have the right and objective assessment of the freedom of religion of a country, it is necessary to base on a number of factors, first and foremost, the policies and laws of the state and the practical life of the people.

At present, many religions are seen active in Vietnam but they all stay side by side with the destiny of the nation. They are one of the positive factors making the diversity and distinction of Vietnam’s culture. Stemming from the revolution’s requirement and task, and the situation of religions, during its leadership, our Party and State have always respected and ensured the freedom of belief and religion of its people; advocated the policies of equality and unity among relgions without bias or discrimination; strictly prohibited all violations of the freedom of religion and belief, etc. Right after peace was restored in the North, President Ho Chi Minh signed the Decree No. 234/SL stating that: “The freedom of belief and worship is the right of the people. The government always respect and assist people in their practice. The government will not intervene into the internal affairs of religions”. The 7th Central Resolution (9th tenure) stated: “Belief and religion is a demand of a number of people. They are and will exist with the nation during the building of socialism in Vietnam. Religious people are part of the great unity bloc. To consistently implement the policy of respecting and ensuring the freedom of follow or not follow a belief or religion and the right to practice religion in accordance with laws”. The resolution of the 12th National Congress of the Party has also stated clearly that: “Pay attention and create favorable condition for religions to conduct their practice in accordance with the Charter and Regulation that have been recognized by the State and law, making positive contribution to the cause of national construction and defense”.

Institutionalizing the Party’s lines and international laws on the freedom of religion and belief, the 1946, 1959, 1980, 1992 and 2013 Constitutions of our country all ruled the freedom of belief and freedom of the people. Article 24 of the 2013 Constitution clearly stated: “All people are free to follow or not follow any belief or religion. All religions are equal to law. The State respect and protect the freedom of religion and belief. No one are allowed to violate the freedom of religion and belief, or take use of religion and belief to violate the law”. Besides, the National Assembly has approved the Law on Religion and belief (2016) and the Government has issued a decree instructing the implementation of the law. This is an important legal basis, meeting the requirement of religious operation in the new era. At the same time, it further improve the legal system and promote the freedom of relgion of the people; renovate the managerial mechanism, making it more easy and transparent to respect and protect the freedom of religion and belief of the people.

Contrary to the fallacy and distortion about the freedom of religion in Vietnam, over the past years, with the sound policies and laws of our Party and State, the freedom of religion and belief of our people has always been well ensured and respected in reality. The number of worship venues, religious followers, dignities, and festivals is increasing. At present, Vietnam has more than 24.3 million followers of 6 major religions; 28,000 worship venues; over 8,000 annual festivals. Each religion has their own educational system, etc. Implementing the guideline of the Party and State, localities have granted land using certificates and made it easy for religions to build and renovate their worship venues; administrative procedure for practicing religion has been simplified. In addition, religious communities are taken care of with a number of socio-economic development program, hence improving their living standard, opportunely settling social security issues and making it favourable for them to practice their religions.

Together with respecting and protecting the freedom of religion and belief, our State also strictly prohibits all act of abusing the freedom of religion and belief to violate the laws and the legitimate interests of other people and State. Accordingly, the arrests of some people who took advantage of the freedom of religion and belief to violate the laws, and undermine political security and social safety are to international and Vietnam’s laws. They are absolutely not “oppression” or “restrain” the religion as alleged by the hostile forces.

Through out the country, from the North to the South, from the countryside to urban and moutainous areas, temples, pagodas, churches, etc are built everywhere. Christian people must be aware of the changes in the La Vang Church in Hai Lang, Quang Tri province which was destroyed by the U.S bombs in 1972. The church has been rebuilt in an area of 21ha of land with a capacity of 5,000 people, representing the biggest Cartholic church in the country. Not only the Christian, followers of other religions also feel big changes in their religious life, especially when it comes to their worship venues and the conditions for conducting rituals. The holy centres of Hoahaoism in the southwestern provinces of An Giang, Can Tho, Dong Thap or of Caodaism in the provinces of Tay Ninh or Ben Tre, etc are well maintained meeting the demand of their followers and become tourist attractions of both domestic and international tourists.

Not only improving of the spiritual life of  religious people domestically, our Party and State also promoted their responsibility for international religious activities. Vietnam has successfully held the UN Vesak Day three times. Especially, the 2019 International Day of Vesak was successfully held in the Tam Chuc Pagoda (Kim Bang district, Ha Nam province) with thousands of participants of 570 delegations coming from 112 countries and territories, including state leaders, Deputy Secretart General of the United Nations, and over 20 ambassadors and representatives for international organizations in Vietnam, etc. which was highly appreciated by international communities.

The above-mentioned reality has manifested clearly the freedom of religion and belief in Vietnam today. This has laid bare all the tricks that take use of religious matters to discredit Vietnam Communist Party and State, incite its people and undermine the country’s great unity bloc.

Vinh Hien

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