Press Release by Boat People SOS (BPSOS); Religious communities across Vietnam to observe international day for victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief

Responding to a recent call by UN Secretary General António Gutteres, religious communities in hundreds of locations throughout Vietnam will hold prayer services this Thursday August 22, for victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief.

“On this Day, we reaffirm our unwavering support for the victims of violence based on religion and belief,” said Mr. Gutteres.

On May 28 of this year the UN General Assembly passed Resolution A/Res/73/296 to designate August 22 of each year to be International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.

“[The General Assembly] invites all Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations, individuals and the private sector, to observe the International Day in an appropriate manner,” the Resolution wrote.

On August 15, the Committee for Justice and Peace of the Conference of Vietnamese Catholic Bishops published an open letter, urging that all “the dioceses and religious and secular institutes of Consecrated Life simultaneously hold Masses or Eucharistic Adoration sessions on August 22, 2019, to pray for religious freedom and for victims of violence and religious persecution, especially in Vietnam.”

Different Catholic dioceses in Vietnam have issued similar calls to their respective priests and followers. 

Some three dozen Cao Dai communities, temples of the Unified Buddhist Church, Montagnard Christian house churches and Hmong Christian house churches have registered their planned commemoration activities at the website set up by BPSOS specifically for this event: https://www.vncrp.org/ngay-tuong-niem-22-8.

In a statement released on August 17, the Junior Sacerdotal Council of the Cao Dai Religion announced that it will hold “commemoration events at 16 locations in Vietnam and 2 locations in the State of Texas, USA, to commemorate the determination to uphold their Faith of all the victims of persecution for their religion or beliefs.”

 “A team of volunteers well trained to report violations of human rights will monitor each of the registered sites,” explained Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, CEO & President of BPSOS. “While we expect the Vietnamese Government, which endorsed the said UN Resolution, to support such commemoration activities, we still need to take precaution.”

The website also includes a “Commemorating Wall” featuring victims of acts of violence because of their religions or beliefs based on inputs from the different religious communities. This “Commemorating Wall” will be maintained permanently and regularly updated.

BPSOS calls on diplomatic missions in Vietnam, the US Department of State, UN agencies and international human rights organizations to closely monitor the situation in Vietnam over the next week so as to ensure that commemorating activities will not be disrupted and participants will not be retaliated against by government authorities or harassed by non-state actors.

Many Vietnamese American groups and organizations will hold parallel events in multiple US cities in support of commemorating activities in Vietnam.

For a list of locations with commemoration activities, please contact forb@bpsos.org.

Desi Hanara