Vietnam rejects US State Department report on religious freedom as ‘biased’

Hanoi, Vietnam - Vietnam’s government on Thursday rejected a U.S. State Department report criticizing religious freedom in the country as “biased.”

The State Department’s report, which covers the period of July-December 2010, said there were continued reports of abuses of religious freedom in Vietnam and that despite areas of progress, significant problems remained.

“Some religious believers continued to experience harassment or repression, particularly those who had not applied for or been granted legal sanction,” said the report, which covered religious freedom around the world and was released Tuesday.

“In a number of instances, local officials forced church gatherings to cease, closed unregistered house churches, and pressured individuals to renounce their religious beliefs,” it said.

Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi as saying the report contained “biased assessments” about religious freedom in Vietnam based on “erroneous” information.

Nghi said people’s rights to religious freedom were enshrined in the country’s constitution, were respected and ensured in practice, and were recognized by the international community.

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