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USCIRF Urges President Obama to Raise Concerns About Religious Freedom in Vietnam

July 22, 2013 | by USCIRF

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- USCIRF urges President Obama to raise concerns about religious freedom violations in Vietnam when he meets at the White House with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang on July 25. Raising these concerns as the U.S.-Vietnamese bilateral relationship is improving will underscore America’s support for this fundamental right.
Because religious freedom conditions remain very poor in Vietnam, we respectfully urge President Obama to raise concerns about religious freedom and related human rights when he meets with President Truong Tan Sang,” said USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett.  “The progress that took place over the past decade was achieved when American and international attention made improvements in religious freedom a core part of the bilateral agenda.  These linkages did not, and will not, threaten our relationship:  In fact, the Vietnamese government’s support for religious freedom can only strengthen the relationship between our two countries.”

As documented in USCIRF’s 2013 Annual Report, the government of Vietnam continues to expand control over all religious activities, severely restrict independent religious practice, and repress individuals and religious groups it views as challenging its authority.  The Vietnamese government uses a specialized religious police force and vague national security laws to suppress independent Buddhist, Protestant, Hoa Hao, and Cao Dai activities, and seeks to stop the growth of ethnic minority Protestantism and Catholicism via discrimination, violence and forced renunciations of their faith.  The government also continues to harass, threaten, intimidate, detain, and sentence lawyers and disbar human rights defenders who have assisted religious communities or religious freedom advocates in cases against the state.

“Vietnam must do more to respect religious freedom.  The state visit provides a unique opportunity for President Obama to press for change,” continued Dr. Swett.  “Opening more space for independent religious activity and freeing jailed lawyers who defend the rights of individuals and communities is a must.”

In December 2012, lawyer and human rights defender Le Quoc Quan, who has assisted Catholics in seeking return of church properties, was again arrested.  Mr. Quan currently is detained incommunicado in Hoa Lo Prison with no access to his lawyer and family.  Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, who in 2010 represented the residents of the village of Con Dau against a government land grab of their village and cemetery, was charged with propaganda against the state.  He now is serving a seven-year sentence based on other activism and is in poor health.

Given these systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations, USCIRF continues to recommend that Vietnam be designated as a “country of particular concern (CPC), placing it among the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. The Commission has recommended CPC status for Vietnam since 2001.  The State Department did so in 2004 and 2005, but removed the designation in 2006 because of progress toward fulfilling a binding agreement. 


Related Article: Ven. Danh Tol's testimony of Khmer-Krom religious repression at US Subcommittee Hearing




USCIRF Urges President Obama to Raise Concerns About Religious Freedom in Vietnam - See more at:

Khmer-Krom community united in global protest: Demands end to persecution of religious leaders and Buddhist monks.


   June 4th,  2013
European Protest

An organized global action is under way today as the Khmer-Krom community and their supporters have gathered in front of Vietnamese Embassies around the world to protest against a downward spiraling trend of human rights conditions and abuses against their indigenous culture in South Vietnam.


Events precipitating to this on scale global protest arises first from the arrest of a Khmer-Krom buddhist monk, Venerable Ly Chanda of Prey Chop temple from Soc Trang (Kleang) province in Vietnam on May 16th, 2013. The Vietnamese government had accused the Venerable of listening to and providing false interview to an oversea human rights NGO.


Despite the fact that the Vietnamese constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech, press, and opinion, it did not stop the government from exercising it's communist state power to discriminate against and prosecute Venerable Ly Chanda on charges which amounts to no more than listening to the radio and giving an interview.


In this flagrant disregard for the Venerable's rights as declared in country’s constitution and in violation of the International Declarations of Human Rights, authorities ordered armed police to desecrate the temple, breaking windows, and forcing down the pagoda door to forcibly remove the Venerable where he was then taken for interrogation and tortured;  injected with unknown substance, and beaten until unconscious.


Following the humiliating treatment of Venerable Ly Chanda and his subsequent televised public defrocking and coerced confession, authorities expanded their crackdown and arrested two more Buddhist monks, the abbot of Ta Set pagoda, Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol.  Along with the religious leaders, two laypersons, Tra Tha, and Thach Phum Rich were also arrested on charges of supporting the monks. Their whereabouts and safety today, remains unknown.

The protests, which is being undertaken around the world, including Paris-France, Australia, Canada, Cambodia, and the U.S.A  condemns these arrests, and the infringement upon Khmer-Krom communities by the state, to exercise and practice their culture without fear and intimidation.

In addition to the demands on Vietnam for immediate and unconditional release of the religious leaders, the Khmer-Krom communities appeal to the U.S to re-list Vietnam under the CPC (countries of particular concern) when it comes to religious freedom.

A U.S based protest will be staged today in front of the Vietnamese embassy at Washington D.C from 11:00 A.M to 12:30 PM at the address below:

1233 20th Street., Washington, DC 20036

National & international media are invited to join the Khmer-Krom communities as they continue their global action to call for respect of their human rights in Vietnam.

Photos from protests from around the world:

    European Protest

Read more: Khmer-Krom community united in global protest: Demands end to persecution of religious leaders...

Happy Khmer New Year 2013

The Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) would like to wish you and your family a Happy Khmer New Year!


Click on link below to read full new year wishes from KKF Chair and President

KKF Board Members Visited Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

March 10, 2013-- On a Sunday sunshine afternoon, it was a perfect weather in the “Lone Star State” of Texas, Khmer-Krom community of Metropolitan of Dallas-Fort Worth organized a special event to extend a warm welcome to the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) delegation on their campaign for the long struggle on religious rights and the freedom of the Khmer-Krom people in Mekong Delta (Kampuchea Krom).

Two senior members of the KKF Board of Directors, Mr. Tran Manh Rinh and Mr. Tran Giap traveled from Philadelphia, and with special guests Mr. Trieu Chiem from New Jersey and Mr. Huynh Sang from San Jose, CA.

Read more: KKF Board Members Visited Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Vietnamese Authority Threatens to Defrock Venerable Ly Chanda

Vietnamese Authority Threatens to Defrock Venerable Ly Chanda

According to VOKK broadcasted on March 7, the Vietnamese government threatens to defrock Venerable Ly Chanda at Prey Chop Temple, Lai Hoa commune, Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province.

Venerable Ly Chanda is one of the Buddhist monks who is helping to organizing teach Cambodian language and Buddhism for the Buddhist monks in his temple. Unfortunately, the Abbot of Prey Chop temple, Venerable Thach Houl does not like it. The reason is Venerable Thach Houl is now the member of the Vietnamese Communist Party and also a member of the Vietnamese Congress. He does not want the Buddhist monks to study anything in his temple because he scared that the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks would stand up to demand for their religious rights.

On March 2, about fifty Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks and the committee member of the temple demanded Venerable Thach Houl to resign from the Abbot of the temple because he does not fulfill his responsibility as the Abbot to conduct the Chanting or Dharma talks for the Buddhist followers. He is too busy with going to the meetings with the authorities. Because he is a Congressman, he refused to resign and asked the Vietnamese polices came to the temple on March 4 to threaten the Buddhist monks who stood up demanding him to resign. Since March 4, the Vietnamese polices has been surrounding the temple without wearing the police uniform and make the Buddhist monks living in Fear now.

The Buddhist monks and Buddhist followers of Prey Chop temple are very respecting and supporting Venerable Ly Chanda because he has done many good things for the temple.  Hundred of elderly Khmer-Krom Buddhist followers have come to the temple every day to show their support that Ven. Ly Chanda does not violate any Buddhist rules, so the Vietnamese authority should not defrock him.

The Vietnamese authority have threatened the Buddhist followers for not coming to the temple by summoning them individually for interrogating. The authority even threatened to take back the "Ho Ngheo" which is a proof document for the poor Khmer-Krom to receive financial assistant from the government.

On March 26, 2013, the Vietnamese authority summoned representatives of ninety two Khmer-Krom Buddhist temples in Soc Trang province to attend a meeting at the “Political School of Soc Trang”. Mr. Son Song Son, the Vietnamese authority representative, asked Ven Ly Chanda and Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thoul of Ta Set temple to defrock. If not, they would face imprisonment. 

Venerable Ly Chanda and the Buddhist followers at Prey Chop temple have urged the world community, especially the countries that help promoting the freedom of religion to help saving Ven. Ly Chanda from threatening to be defrocked. The Vietnamese authority should not use the Buddhist organization that is controlled by the government, Patriotic United Buddhist Association (Hội Đoàn Kết Sư Sải Yêu Nước), to force the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks to practice their Theravada Buddhism as what the government wants.

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