The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) has welcomed the recommendation that Vietnam be designated as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC).
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said on 25 April that it wanted six more countries, including Vietnam, to be added to the US State Department’s religious-freedom watch list.
The 2018 USCIRF Annual Report recommended that Vietnam, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia and Syria should join the latest CPC list, currently featuring ten countries, published by the US State Department each year.
“USCIRF’s report confirms our assessment that violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief are escalating in Vietnam,” said VCHR President Vo Van Ai.
In March VCHR slammed Vietnam’s human rights record in its review of 2017, titled Shrinking Spaces, which documented “one of the worst crackdowns in recent years against rights defenders, bloggers and religious followers”.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, who was released from prison last year on the condition that he leave the country, has spoken at a summit marking the 20th anniversary of USCIRF about being “beaten and tortured” during his five years in prison, reports the Christian Post.
Chinh, who was released shortly after being visited in prison by a US diplomatic delegation, told the Christian Post that “common criminals” were used by the authorities to beat up prisoners of conscience. “If we got beaten to death, then the guards would say: ‘This is just an issue among the prisoners. It is not us,'” Chinh said.