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(Compass) – On May 5, John Hanford, U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, announced an agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam regarding issues of religious liberty and confirmed the release of 12 religious prisoners as part of a special amnesty. Six Hmong Christians and Mennonite church worker Le Thi Hong Lien were among them. The agreement acknowledges recent progress in Vietnam ’s religious rights policies, including a pledge to allow hundreds of disbanded churches to reopen. Nevertheless, some observers expressed skepticism. “This will not be an easy task,” one source said, “because for many years the official dogma — believed and taught from the top — was that Protestantism is an American religion bent on overthrowing the communist revolution. As such, it was commendable policy to discriminate against, harass and persecute Christians.”