Sen. Thanh Hai Ngo Raises Freedom of Religion Violations in Vietnam

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Senator Ngo being interviewed by Ms. Emily Belz from World Magazine

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Senator Thanh Hai Ngo Raises Freedom of Religion Violations in Vietnam at an International Conference in New York CITY

Ottawa, September 23, 2015 – Senator Thanh Hai Ngo attended an international conference on freedom of religion in New York City on September 18 and 19 to address the rising religious persecution of people on the grounds of faith or belief around the world.

The event was co-sponsored by the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB), a network launched last year in response to the rising crisis of religious or belief-based persecution, both by terrorist groups and authoritarian governments. IPPFoRB is an alliance of parliamentarians committed to advancing religious freedom for all, as defined by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Senator Ngo joined more than one hundred parliamentarians from almost 50 countries, in the context of the United Nations to conclude an unprecedented summit discussing ways to advance freedom of religion or belief for all

Throughout the conference, Senator Ngo focused the attention of his fellow members of the IPPFoRB towards taking effective and concrete actions against the systematic ongoing abuses of human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam. The delegates joined their efforts in the issuance of advocacy letters to Prime Minister Dung, urging the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to end tight governmental control, cease harassment of unregistered groups, release all prisoners jailed for peacefully practicing their religion, and take steps to bring their laws on religion into conformity with international standards.

In Vietnam, many religious communities face continuous harassment, intimidation, or beatings because of their religion, and oppressive registration policies, and legal framework broadly restrict rather than protect their freedom of religion or belief.  In addition, a concerning number of faith believers have been jailed for peacefully expressing their faith and beliefs, like Father Nguyen Van Ly, the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do and Van Minh Nguyen, amongst others. Although Vietnam’s religious life and diversity is a reality, the freedom and exercise of religious belief remains unsafe and contrary to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Parliamentarians were joined by expert panelists including Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, House of Lords, United Kingdom and member of the IPPFoRB Steering Group, Volker Kauder, Chairman of the Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag, Abid Raja, Member of Parliament for Norway, Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament ret., and Chairman of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Germany, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, The High-Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, Ivan Šimonović, United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Dr. Aykan Erdemir, Former Member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Ambassador David Saperstein, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom U.S. State of Department, United States, Ambassador Petter Wille, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Peter van Dalen, Member of the European Parliament and Co-Chairman of the Intergroup on Religious Freedom in the European Parliament, Netherlands, David Anderson, Member of Parliament (2000-2015), House of Commons, Canada, presently running for re-election, Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General, Religions for Peace, United States, Dr. Harald Braun, German Ambassador to the United Nations,  and Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, Ambassador to the United Nations, United Kingdom, amongst others.

Notes:

Parliamentarians attending the meeting came from: Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; Burma/Myanmar; Cambodia; Canada; Central African Republic; Chad; Chile; Costa Rica; Denmark; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Egypt; El Salvador; European Parliament; Georgia; Germany; Honduras; India; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Jordan; Kenya; Lebanon; Lithuania; Malawi; Malaysia; Mexico; Netherlands; Nigeria; Norway; Pakistan; Paraguay; Peru; Senegal; Serbia; South Africa; Sudan; Taiwan; Tunisia; United Kingdom; Uruguay.

Supportive Documents:

–        New York Resolution for Freedom of Religion or Belief: http://ippforb.com/new-york-resolution/

–        Co-signed letter to the Prime Minister of Vietnam: http://ippforb.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/IPPFoRB-Letter-Vietnam.pdf`

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