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Christian Examiner: Communist officials in Vietnam are for the first time seeking the input of the country’s Catholic leaders on proposed legislation addressing faith and religion, but many bishops there believe the effort at transparency is only an attempt to “appear democratic,” AsiaNews reported May 4.
National Catholic Reporter: Vietnam’s cardinal-designate sees hope and continuing challenges ahead for the church in a nation that still has to fully embrace religious freedom.
CogitAsia: Vietnam’s government has often been criticized for its poor record on religious freedom, but recent events give rise to cautious optimism that small improvements are being made.
Marilyn Stowe: Amendments to the country’s Law on Marriage and Family will take effect on 1 January 2015, replacing the previous rule which forbade marriages between members of the same sex.
Religion Clause: “A video is now available online of the March 26 hearing by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Persecution of Religious and Indigenous Communities in Vietnam.”
Fox News: China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam are among the nations running unopposed for seats on the Human Rights Council, the U.N.’s highest rights watchdog body, a prospect that has independent human rights groups crying foul.
AsiaNews.it: Nghe An provincial judges sentence Ngo Van Khoi and Nguyen Van Hai. The bishop and entire diocese fought for their release, drawing authorities’ ire. The family had not been notified of the hearing, which lasted only three hours. A priest speaking anonymously confirms: “They are innocent”.
MorningStarNews: An estimated 40 people on Vietnam’s north-central coast were seriously injured after authorities on Wednesday (Sept. 4) broke up a protest over the arrest and detention without charges of two Catholics.
International Christian Concern (ICC) has just learned that police officers attacked a Christian couple in Lào Cai province, Vietnam, last Monday after the couple refused to recant their newly found Christian faith. Police repeatedly struck both the husband and wife until the wife began bleeding, at which point police halted the beating and released her.
Catholic Culture: Ngai’s brother, who was imprisoned in an adjacent cell, heard him being beaten by prison authorities on the night of his death.
Union Bulletin: Vietnam should legalize same-sex marriage immediately, the deputy minister of health was quoted as saying today by local media . . . The National Assembly is scheduled to discuss allowing same-sex marriage when the law is reviewed in May.
Baptist Press: Vietnam’s latest changes in enforcement of its highest law regarding religion clarify the country’s intent to especially control the spread of Christianity, according to an authority on Vietnamese Protestant Christianity, World Watch Monitor has reported.
LifeNews: Pham Thi Cuong, 74, is doing what so many in Vietnam refuse to do — care for little babies who die before birth in abortions. A new story profiles her work, finding and burying more than 4,000 unwanted babies who have been killed.
Catholic Culture: Communist officials compelled Catholics in a south-central Vietnamese village to remove the altar, tabernacle, cross, and Marian image from a Catholic chapel.
Belfast Telegraph: The Republic of Ireland is abandoning religion faster than almost every other country worldwide, a massive global survey on faith reveals.
Wall Street Journal: It’s fair to say not too many people expected the same from Vietnam. Nevertheless, Vietnam’s Communist government is now considering whether to allow same-sex couples to marry or legally register and receive rights. If it does, the country would be the first in Asia to do so, the Associated Press reported.
Wisconsin Gazette: The ministry, in letters to a series of advocacy groups and agencies, said it is considering the legalization of same-sex marriage because of the increasing number of LGBT families.
AWR Hawkins at Townhall: For as an Illinois state senator, Obama “voted four times against legislation to protect and care for infants accidentally born alive during late-term abortions.”
ThanhnienNews.com: A baby that was aborted in a central Vietnam clinic Sunday after her parents were convinced by erroneous scans that she had congenital abnormalities survived the abortion but died later because she was too weak.
AP: Two Catholics have been convicted of spreading anti-government propaganda and sentenced to prison in Vietnam, where local church officials and the ruling Communist Party have had an uneasy relationship for years.
Catholic Culture: A gang of men attacked an unregistered Baptist prayer meeting near Hanoi on November 13, smashing a cross and beating the pastor to the point of unconsciousness. Collaboration between the gang and local police is suspected.
OneNewsNow.com: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the Obama administration’s release of the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, and the Commission is urging the U.S. government to increase action to promote freedom of religion or belief. Burma, Eritrea, China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan are eight “countries of particular concern,” but USCIRF spokesperson Elizabeth Cassidy says her group thinks the list is incomplete . . .
Asia News: Peter Pham Minh Hoang, professor at the University of Ho Chi Minh City is accused of activities aimed at overthrowing the government and of joining a democracy group. His arrest has caused concern and protests worldwide. Fears that the sentence has been decided before the start of the trial.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released its 2011 Annual Report and recommended that the Secretary of State name the following nations “countries of particular concern” or CPCs: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
AP: Vietnamese authorities have arrested the pastor of an outlawed Mennonite church for allegedly sowing division between the government and citizens of this communist nation, state media reported Friday.
StraitsTimes.com: Vietnam has stepped up its repression of an indigenous Christian minority, forcing hundreds to renounce their religion, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.
Washington Post / On Faith: “Human Rights Watch is calling on the United States to return Vietnam to a list of the world’s worst abusers of religious freedom, accusing it of continuously harassing some groups trying to worship peacefully.”
Reuters: “Vietnam’s ruling Communists are replenishing their aging ranks with younger, better-educated policymakers and entrepreneurs as the 81-year-old party founded by Marxist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh struggles to stay relevant.”
Doug Bandow writing at The Center for Vision & Values: “There is more than enough bad news to fill the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s latest annual report. Worst of all were the conditions in 13 ‘countries of particular concern.’”
Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. government Thursday said it has strongly protested Vietnam’s treatment of a U.S. diplomat who was detained and wrestled to the ground while attempting to visit a dissident Roman Catholic priest—a development that could further inflame concerns in the U.S. about the Southeast Asian nation’s human rights record.”
Christian Post: “A Protestant pastor and human rights activist in Vietnam was beaten unconscious Tuesday morning by Ho Chi Minh City officials. His Bible school, located in the city’s District 2, was also bulldozed, according to Release International, which serves the persecuted church around the world.”
LifeSiteNews: “After decades of involvement in coercive population control measures, including abortion, contraception, and sterilization of women, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is admitting that policies it has championed are causing a serious imbalance in the ratio of male to female births in Vietnam.”
Catholic News Agency: “After being arrested in a clash with police in a church-state property dispute, six Catholic villagers in Vietnam were convicted in a quick trial on Wednesday. One U.S. congressman criticized the proceeding as a ‘sham court,’ noting the defendants’ lack of a lawyer.”
Canadian Press: “Republican lawmakers and activists on Wednesday called on the Obama administration to put Vietnam back on a U.S. religious freedoms blacklist. Reps. Frank Wolf and Chris Smith also said at a hearing that the U.S. State Department should avoid deepening ties with the economically vibrant Southeast Asian nation until human rights improve.” | Chris Smith: Investigate and Hold to Account Those Responsible for Murder and Other Human Rights Abuses of Catholics in Con Dau
Asia News: “Nam Nguyen, a Catholic from Con Dau parish, in the Diocese of Da Nang died last Saturday, just hours after being released by police. The man, already in recent months, had been arrested, beaten and threatened by agents, following protests from residents over the closure of the cemetery of the parish and the announced destruction of their homes to build a tourist centre.”
ASSIST News Service: “The widow of a Vietnamese Christian who was brutally tortured and murdered may be in danger of losing her children to the state . . . In an updated media release from ICC, new information states that on May 3, 2010, his widow, H’Nguen, was forced to take her two children, H’Danh and Y-Ly, to the Nhan Hoa Police Station and told she must sign documents giving custody to the government.”
Charisma: “A Protestant prisoner of conscience who had called for democratic freedoms in Vietnam was released earlier this month after serving a three-year sentence for ‘propagandizing to destroy the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’ . . . While Christians in several parts of Vietnam are still subject to abuse from local officials, the country’s national authorities have continued to allow high-profile Christian events.”
Catholic News Agency: “A Vietnamese priest has condemned the recent government attacks on Dong Chiem parishioners in the Archdiocese of Hanoi and has called for the removal of police forces in the area and for an ‘end of the besiegement.’”
Christian Post: “A Vietnamese man violently forced to recant his fledgling Christian faith faces pressure from authorities and clansmen to prove his return to traditional Hmong belief by sacrificing to ancestors next month.”
Wall Street Journal: “A Hanoi court on Monday convicted former army officer Tran Anh Kim of ‘carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration’ and sentenced him to five-and-a-half years in prison. His ‘crime’ was to post pro-democracy articles on his Web site. The presiding judge dubbed this a ‘violation of national security’ under Article 79 of the penal code.”
Houston Chronicle: “Human rights activists are criticizing Vietnam for expelling followers of a renowned Buddhist monk from a monastery, calling it part of a pattern of religious persecution by the Communist government.”
Reuters: “The ratio of boys born in Vietnam compared with girls has grown at an unusually rapid pace in recent years and could lead to a rise in sex work and trafficking, the United Nations said.”
CWNews: “Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese Catholics in the Vinh diocese celebrated the feast of the Assumption on August 15 by marching in a rally with banners invoking the protection of the Virgin Mary and demanding the end to government persecutions. Meanwhile in Hanoi thousands of other Catholics organized their own protest against the conversion of property that was owned by the Church, and confiscated by the government, into a state park . . . ”
Catholic World News: “Catholic internet sites that have given prominent coverage to a Vietnamese government campaign against the Catholic Church– including CWN– are being blocked by government censors.”
Catholic News Agency: “On Monday morning Vietnamese police in the Diocese of Vinh brutally beat hundreds of Catholics who were erecting a cross and building an altar on the ground of a church that collapsed during the Vietnam War. Dozens of Catholics were arrested in the clash.”
LifeSiteNews: “The communist government of Viet Nam is punishing couples with more than two children, a local Catholic news agency reports. Catholic villagers in Thua Thien-Hue province told the Union of Catholic Asian News they are being fined for having more than two children under a revived government two-child policy.”
John Boudreau reports in the Mercury News: “A half-million young women are trafficked each year around the world, according to the U.S. State Department. In Vietnam, the government recently reported that last year there were 6,684 victims of trafficking, with 2,579 returned to their homes. It also said there were 21,038 people reported missing who could have been sold into prostitution.”
Compass Direct News: “In what religious freedom advocates regarded as a breakthrough in Vietnam, authorities granted rare permission to unregistered house church groups to hold a large, public Easter-related service here last night.”
AP: “Hanoi court rejected the appeals Friday of eight Roman Catholics convicted last year of disturbing public order and damaging property during a series of demonstrations to demand the return of former church land . . . The communist government confiscated the plot several years after taking power from the French in 1954. ”
a href=”http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13278577″>Economist.com: Foreigners have long been attracted to Sapa and its surrounding mountains in the far north of Vietnam . . . But now, it seems, another type of visitor is finding this territory attractive: gangs of kidnappers who snatch young Hmong women for sale as brides across the border in China.
These results suggest that prenatal sex determination followed by selective abortion has recently become more common in Vietnam. This recent trend is a consequence of various factors such as preference for sons, declining fertility, easy access to abortion, economic development as well as the increased availability of ultrasonography facilities.
Western men who visit red-light districts in poor countries often find themselves surrounded by coquettish teenage girls laughingly tugging them toward the brothels. The men assume that the girls are there voluntarily, and in some cases they are right.
Repeating a government tactic used in disputes with Vietnamese Catholics seeking the return of confiscated property, the People’s Committee of Vinh Long on Friday announced that it will demolish the city’s St. Paul Monastery to build a public park.
CNA: “In one of the largest protests to be held in Vietnam in decades, more than 5,000 people gathered in a candlelight vigil on Sunday evening at Saigon Redemptorist Monastery to demonstrate support for eight Catholics who will be put …
The AP reports: “Communist authorities in Hanoi have threatened to take legal action against the city’s archbishop unless he immediately disbands illegal prayer vigils to demand the return of former church lands, state media reported Monday.”
The Religion Clause Blog reports: “The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom yesterday released a 32-page report on religious freedom in Vietnam (full text). The report, which includes findings from USCIRF’s 2007 trip to Vietnam, concludes that “religious freedom conditions …