The Ministry of Public Security's aggressive actions add to the agenda for the upcoming UPR review of Vietnam

The Ministry of Public Security’s aggressive actions add to the agenda for the upcoming UPR review of Vietnam.

The Ministry of Public Security's aggressive actions add to the agenda for the upcoming UPR review of Vietnam

The Ministry of Public Security’s aggressive actions add to the agenda for the upcoming UPR review of Vietnam
International alliance of 42 countries for religious freedom gets involved

BPSOS, April 18, 2024

On April 16, at the monthly meeting of the Steering Committee of the International Religious Freedom and Belief Alliance (IRFBA), Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang called on member countries of the alliance to speak out at the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Vietnam on May 7.
“The increasing religious oppression in recent times has made them particularly concerned,” Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, Executive Director and Acting Chairman of BPSOS, said. “The issue of Vietnam will be raised at the Alliance’s plenary meeting this April, especially in relation to the UPR.”

Scene of the IRFBA meeting on March 13 & 14, Château d’Hauteville Castle, Vevey, Switzerland (IRFBA photo)
IRFBA prioritizes the issue of Vietnam.

“Last month, at the Spring meeting of IRFBA in Switzerland, I mentioned the Public Security Ministry’s forced conversion of a large number of Protestant followers among the Montagnards in the Central Highlands, as well as the threats to young Montagnards refugees in Thailand,” Dr. Thang said. “These young people have reported many violations of religious freedom in the Central Highlands to the international community.”

Established by the U.S. State Department in 2020 with 13 original member countries, IRFBA now has 37 member countries and 5 friendly or observer countries. Every March, the Alliance holds a Spring meeting in Geneva, coinciding with the session of the UN Human Rights Council. Dr. Thang is a member of the Council of Experts advising the IRFBA.

Recent news from the Central Highlands shows that the Vietnamese state is escalating pressure on followers of Protestant house churches in the Central Highlands to join the Vietnam Evangelical Church – South, an organization controlled and used by the state.
“The police threatened to accuse those involved in the June 11 shooting in Dak Lak and to lawfully punish those who disobeyed,” Dr. Thang explained. “Many Montagnard Protestant followers, out of fear, reluctantly leave their churches to join the state-designated church; under international law, this is considered forced conversion.”

However, there are also those who adamantly protect their faith regardless of the consequences. For example, pastors Nay Y Blang and Y Krec Bya were recently sentenced to 4.5 and 13 years in prison, respectively, and Mr. Y Bum Bya was found dead by hanging after going to a meeting at a cemetery near his home as ordered by the police.”

On March 8, just 5 days before the Spring meeting of IRFBA, the Ministry of Public Security designated the Montagnard Stand for Justice as a terrorist organization after the Dak Lak court improperly sentenced Mr. Y Quynh Bdap, its chief coordinator, to 10 years in prison.

“This event had a strong impact on everyone at the meeting because the main members of the Montagnard Stand for Justice are in the program to train young leaders for the global religious freedom movement that BPSOS has been coordinating for years,” Dr. Thang explained. “Some of those at the meeting had previously been in contact with these young people and knew that the accusations by the Public Security Ministry were unfounded.”

Members of the Montagnard Stand for Justice with Mr. Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, at the SEAFORB Conference V, Bangkok, Thailand, November 4, 2019 (MSFJ photo)

Recommendations for the UPR
The IRFBA Steering Committee has decided to include the UPR issue for Vietnam on the agenda of the plenary meeting this April. To prepare for the meeting, BPSOS has made 7 recommendations for IRFBA member countries to raise with the Vietnamese government:

  • Issue identity cards for around 100,000 undocumented Hmong, mostly from the Tin Lanh religion
  • End all forced conversions of Montagnard Protestants
  • Stop oppressing, arresting, and abusing monks and Khmer Krom Buddhists who do not comply with the Vietnam Buddhist Church established by the state in 1981
  • Cease the nationwide oppression targeting Hmong and Montagnard refugees in Thailand or those resettled in the United States
  • Return the properties of Cao Dai believers to the Tay Ninh Holy See, the local churches in Tay Ninh, and the local congregations for them to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding
  • Lift the travel ban on monks and followers of various religions
  • Release religious prisoners of conscience
    See more recommendations:…/Recommendations-for-UPR-of-Vietnam…
    These recommendations complement the list of recommendations that BPSOS has submitted to many governments at the “pre-UPR” meeting convened by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in February. See:…/upl…/2024/03/BPSOS_Factsheet_PS46.pdf
    Picture 3 – The IRFBA Steering Committee with members of the Council of Experts at Château d’Hauteville Castle, Vevey, Switzerland, March 13, 2024 (Templeton photo)


    The Ministry of Public Security has exploited the June 11, 2023, shooting incident in Dak Lak to escalate the repression of Montagnard house churches in the Central Highlands and to attack young Montagnards for providing many reports of violations to the UN, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and many Western governments.

    The aggressive actions of the Public Security Ministry have made IRFBA member governments, including the United States, more concerned about the religious oppression in Vietnam. This concern will be reflected in the upcoming UPR review.


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