11/08/2016, 17.26
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For Vietnamese activists, the new law on religion will cause social conflicts

by Peter Đang

Experts highlight some aspects of the draft law on religion that could undermine religious freedom in Vietnam. If the parliament approves the bill, "this will certainly lead to many conflicts in society." Too many aspects are ambiguous and unclear.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) –  For the past year, a draft law on religion and beliefs has been before the Vietnamese parliament. If lawmakers approve the proposed bill, "this will certainly lead to many conflicts in society,” said some Vietnamese activists concerned about the legislation’s ambiguities.

Speaking to AsiaNews, they note that “If the government relies on the new law, it will be easier for local authorities to violate religious freedom guaranteed by the 1992 law and the International Convention on Human Rights."

After the country’s bishops voiced their opinion stressing some progress in the new law, experts note that other aspects could undermine the work of the Catholic Church (and other religions) in Vietnam.

According to activists, buying and using land will become very difficult for religious communities. The latter will be able to buy land but then will required to hand over all the papers to the government, who will distribute the lots.

The article that covers this aspect, they write, "will abuse religious freedom, jeopardising public order and the environment. It is designed to restrict, threaten and destroy the freedom of the people."

The law, in particular Article 40, also "states that the organisation of courses by religions must receive permission from the authorities."

These courses, experts say, are used to train people responsible for religious activities and therefore "it is an internal matter to [religious] organisations recognised by society and not something that creates problems."

Overall, experts conclude that the distance between the draft law and "the reality of society is so great. We feel that this measure is generally meant to facilitate state management and control of religion.

“So far, too many concepts and items are ambiguous and unclear."

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