US State Department expresses concerns over convictions of rights advocates in Vietnam News
AgnosticPreachersKid, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
US State Department expresses concerns over convictions of rights advocates in Vietnam

The US State Department expressed concern regarding the recent convictions of ethnic minority and religious freedom advocates in Vietnam on Monday. The statement highlighted the convictions of five individuals since January 2024 and called on the Vietnamese government to uphold freedoms of expression, association, and religion or belief.

One of the cases mentioned in the statement is that of Y Krec Bya, a Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ member, who was convicted on April 8 under Article 116 of the Penal Code for allegedly “sabotaging the national unity policy.” Bya has peacefully advocated for freedom of religion or belief in Vietnam. The State Department expressed deep concern over Bya’s 13-year sentence.

The statement also emphasized the ongoing imprisonment of Nay Y Blang, Danh Minh Quang, Thach Cuong and To Hoang Chuong. These individuals have been advocating peacefully for human rights in Vietnam, including freedom of religion or belief. The State Department reiterated its call for Vietnam to release all those unjustly detained.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Vietnamese government restricts religious practice through legislation, registration requirements, harassment and surveillance. The government often interferes with religious activities it deems contrary to the “national interest,” “public order” or “national unity.” Unrecognized independent religious groups operating outside government-controlled institutions are also subjected to constant surveillance. Followers of such groups have reported incidents of public criticism, forced renunciation of faith, and prosecution.