Vietnam’s Law on Belief and Religion, which came into force on 1 January has alarmed Christians. It insists religious groups must be registered and approved by the government. They also believe that the law’s vague wording could be exploited to limit church activities.
Despite some improvement in religious freedoms in Vietnam in recent years, Christians continue to face intense pressure, especially those who speak out against corruption and rights abuses.
Christian lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton are both still in custody in Hanoi since their arrests in December 2015 and July 2017 respectively – because they have called for greater religious freedom. They have also been barred from meeting their lawyers.
About a month ago, Christian activist Maria Tran Thị Nga, a mother of two young children from Ha Nam province, was found guilty of “propaganda against the state.” She was sentenced to nine years in prison and five years under house arrest. Her harsh sentence and irregularities relating to her trial have prompted an international outcry.
Christian bloggers have also been targeted; only last week, a court in Nghe An province upheld a five-year prison sentence against Nguyen Van Oai for his pro-democracy campaigns.
Source: Release International