Vietnam Prime Minister Phan Van Khai will be visiting United States this week. This will be the first since the end of Vietnam War in 1975. The purpose of his visit is to address issues on economy and cooperation on varied international and regional concerns.
During the visit and meeting with President Bush, Prime Minister Khai is expected to push to accelerate negotiations for Vietnam's membership to the World Trade Organisation by the end of this year.
Open Doors, USA president Carl Moeller urged President Bush to address religious freedom as the main topic in his meeting with the prime minister.
"Vietnam is one of the worse persecutors of Christians worldwide. This is documented in our World Watch List, the 50 worst persecuting countries in the world. Vietnam ranks number three," says Moeller.
Moeller also commented on the treatment of tribal Christians. "All of these tribal peoples in Vietnam (are) absolutely a tragic human rights abuse situation. These people are hounded and forced to recant their faith, often times at the threat of imprisonment or torture. And, Vietnam continues to flaunt international consensus on freedom of religion."
Comparing to the example of China, Moeller said that economic freedom did not bring reduction to religious persecution when US opened its economic pathway to China. Vietnam has made pledges in the past, but have not made changes until now. Yet despite reports of persecution, Moeller said that the church in Vietnam continues to thrive and are growing at phenomenal rates.
Demonstration will be held on democracy and religious liberty for Vietnam tomorrow in Washington DC from 11:30am to 2:30pm at the Freedom Plaza. The rally is organized by four organisations; the Montagnard Foundation, the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, the World Hmong Congress and the Tai Solidarity International.
They call on the U.S. Government to consider the respect of human rights and the promotion of democracy in Vietnam as necessary conditions to establish favourable political and economic relations with the Vietnamese Government, according to released Appeal to the US Government.