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Vietnam: Religious Freedom Advocate Wins Writer’s Award

ICC Note: Despite greatly expanding it's economy and encouraging Western tourism, the government of Vietnam remains mostly hostile to the spread of Christianity. This has led to tight restrictions on holding unregistered church services and evangelizing. Some ICC sources report dozens of pastors currently remain imprisoned for refusing to shut down their "illegal" churches and recant their faith. 

Vietnamese Catholic blogger and religious freedom advocate Nguyen Huu Vinh has been awarded the Hellman/Hammett award for writers facing political persecution. Nguyen Huu Vinh (also known as Jean Baptiste Nguyen Huu Vinh) was among 41 people selected for the Hellman/Hammett award administered by the human rights NGO Human Rights Watch.

Nguyen Huu Vinh has written poems, blog posts and reports on a broad range of sensitive issues, including land confiscation and disputes, police brutality, and restrictions on the right to freedom of religion. He has also been vocal on controversial topics such as Hanoi-Vatican relations, official corruption, and Hanoi’s response to the South China Sea dispute with Beijing.

As a result, Nguyen Huu Vinh has been questioned by police numerous times and is under close surveillance. He has also been assaulted twice; most recently, in July 2012, he was attacked by knife-wielding thugs after taking part in, and blogging about an anti-China rally in Hanoi.

In September Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) expressed concern over the sentencing of three Catholic bloggers whose heavy sentences highlight a broader pattern of restriction on freedom of expression in Vietnam. Human Rights Watch has criticised the Government of Vietnam for suppressing freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and for persecuting those who question or criticise the government.

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