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Freedom of Religion in a Communist Country

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On April 28, 2011, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) held a Press Conference in Washington DC regarding to its Annual Report about the Religious Freedom around the world. In its report, USCIRF has a section mentioning about the Khmer Buddhism in Vietnam:

“The Vietnamese government‘s ongoing repression of the language, culture, and religion of ethnic Khmer living in Vietnam has led to rising resentment in the Mekong Delta, where as many as one million ethnic minority Khmer Buddhists live. Khmer Buddhism is associated with the Theravada branch and has religious and ethnic traditions distinct from the dominant Mahayana Buddhist tradition practiced in most of Vietnam. Some Khmer Buddhists have called for a separate religious organization, distinct from the government-approved Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha (VBS). Religious freedom concerns continue to be central to demands of ethnic minority Khmer for human rights protections and preservation of their unique language and culture…”

Click here to read the report

Vietnam always claims that the People in Vietnam have Freedom of Religion. But in reality, the people in Vietnam must practice their religion under the control of the Vietnamese government. The Vietnamese government even creates a Vietnam Buddhist Shangha organization to control the Buddhism in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government has monitored heavily about what the Khmer-Krom has been practicing their Theravada Buddhism. The Vietnamese government embeds its secret agents in the Khmer-Krom temples. Whatever events are organized at the Khmer-Krom temples, the Khmer-Krom have to ask for permission.

The Khmer-Krom in Luong Phi commune, Tri Ton district, An Giang province, organized the Grand Opening for the Dharma Hall at the Tom Pong Krom temple from April 22-24, 2011. During those three days, the Vietnamese sent Polices to monitor and made the Khmer-Krom feel uncomfortable while attending the event. The Vietnamese polices used temple’s land to make a Parking place for the Motorcycle. The people who came to the event had to pay for the parking fee. There are three reasons the Vietnamese polices doing that. First reason is to make money on the temple's land. Second reason is to keep an eye on the actives of the Khmer-Krom. Third reason is to make the Khmer-Krom feel uncomfortable and insecure to see the Vietnamese police at their events. With those reasons, the Vietnamese government can easily send the Khmer-Krom away so they don't come to the event. The Vietnamese government really scare to see the Khmer-Krom gathering together.

With the religious violation records, as the USCIRF suggested in its Report, Vietnam should be reinstated to the Country of Particular Concern (CPC) list.