Vietnam's Communist government issued a new decree on religious rights yesterday that included fresh warnings for those who would use religion to harm the state.
    The decree, which goes into effect on 4 May, also said that property and lands once belonging to religious groups and now held by the government now belong to the state, according to the official Vietnam News Agency (VNA). The Communist government seized control of property belonging to Buddhist, Catholic, and other groups between 1954 and 1975, as it seized control of North and then South Vietnam.
    The new statement also affirmed some religious rights, including a right to non-discrimination, freedom to worship, and the right to change religion. But it explicitly warned against subversive acts. "Any acts conducted under the pretext of worship and religion to oppose the Socialist Republic of Vietnam ... shall be punished in accordance with the law," VNA said.
    UN special envoy for religious affairs Abdelfattah Amor, who visited Vietnam last October, said the country continued to limit religious freedoms, despite its assurances otherwise. Vietnam countered that Amor lacked objectivity and said that visits from human rights or religion investigators would no longer be welcome.

11:43am 22/4/99 / Catholic World News


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