Washington, D.C. (July 11, 2012) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf called Monday for the immediate dismissal of the U.S ambassador to Vietnam after he reportedly demonstrated little concern for the importance of human rights in the country.
In a letter to President Obama, Congressman Wolf stated that the ambassador has shown “little to no initiative” in the case of a U.S. citizen recently detained in Vietnam and had mislead the Congressman regarding opening up the U.S. embassy to human rights activists during a July 4th event at the embassy in Hanoi. The letter went on to say that the ambassadors “sidelining” of human rights issues was “symptomatic of this administration’s overall approach to human rights and religious freedom”.
Meanwhile, a report emerged earlier this week of a crackdown on Christians in the country that local sources believe may be part of a campaign to eradicate Christianity in rural areas in Vietnam. The report came after government sponsored thugs beat up a priest and other attendees of a Christian service held in the north-central part of the country on July 1st. Dozens of attendees were allegedly injured and one woman was hospitalized after having her skull fractured.
Late last month, news source Compass Direct also reported that local police and paramilitary forces had reduced two Christian churches “to rubble”, and threatened to demolish a third, leaving hundreds of ethic Hmong Christians without a place to worship. The first demolition took place in mid-June, only a few days after authorities in a separate province reportedly stood by and watched as villagers beat up five Catholics for attending the blessing of a new home by a local priest. All five Christians were hospitalized.
Speaking with ICC, a representative from Congressman Wolf’s office said “Human Rights [in Vietnam] is a huge issue. The State Department needs to speak out and give people in Vietnam a voice.” When asked if it was common for the State Department to make human rights and religious freedom a low priority, the representative responded “Yes, it’s very common, and it’s not just a problem in Vietnam, it’s a problem all over the world.”
ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Aisa, Ryan Morgan, said, “For the last several years the U.S has sought to strengthen ties with the Communist government of Vietnam while brushing aside the regimes long list of human rights abuses, including the systematic persecution of Christians. Christians are being arrested, beat up, tortured, and driven from their homes by a government that sees their religious beliefs as a threat. I fully agree with the sentiment expressed in Congressman Wolf’s letter to the administration and call for the State Department to stop prioritizing virtually every other issue at the expense of Vietnam’s human rights activists and Christians.”
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