Vietnam’s Dirty Secret

Before Recognizing Vietnam, Let’s Recognize the Truth About Religious Persecution There

Radical activists with anti-war records have long pressed for reconciliation with America’s former enemies in Southeast Asia. As early as October 1976, for example, the National Council of Churches (NCC) was advocating full United Nations membership of the newly established Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV), economic assistance to the reunified country, and normalization of diplomatic relations between Hanoi and Washington.

Over the years, this debate has edged its way into the political mainstream. Last year, Senator and former prisoner of war John McCain (R., Arizona) sponsored a resolution recommending that the U.S. government negotiate with the SRV to open “interest sections” in the capitals of both countries. While McCain subsequently withdrew his support, the drive for normalization has proceeded apace. The nominally bipartisan Institute for Democracy in Vietnam sponsored a conference on September 28, 1988, in the Dirksen Senate Office Building that strongly pushed this line. This issue was also taken up by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) at their November 1988 general meeting in Washington, D.C., and in early January 1989, an official NCCB delegation of archbishops returned from a visit to the Far East to advocate a “more normal relationship” between the two countries.

Given the interest that such groups as the NCC and NCCB have given this proposal, it seems fitting, if not altogether diplomatic, to review what has happened to religion in Vietnam since the fall of Saigon in April 1975. The painful, though simple, fact is that during this time the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party has severely persecuted all religious faiths. While news of this persecution has often been difficult to obtain, it is nonetheless available and provides a stark backdrop to the current talk of US-Vietnamese reconciliation.

For instance, two weeks before the NCCB’s general meeting last November, a small press conference was held at the National Press Club in Washington to publicize the cases of two Buddhist monks, Reverends Thich Tri Sieu and Thich Tue Sy. Considered to be among Vietnam’s most eminent Buddhist scholars, these two monks were arrested on April 2, 1984; after four years in jail, they were finally brought to trial late last September and sentenced to death.

The people’s court in Ho Chi Minh City that heard their case accused them of involvement with the “Free Vietnam Force,” alleged to be a counter-revolutionary organization based among Catholics who resettled in Dong Nai Province in 1954. The monks were actually involved in a human rights organization. Their problems with the new regime stemmed from their having helped establish the Vietnam Human Rights Front in 1976. In part because of protest from abroad, SRV authorities have dropped the death sentences and instead given these scholars lengthy prison namese religious order, the 81-year-old Catholic priest was given life imprisonment on October 30, 1987; last September, his sentence was commuted to a mere 20 years.

Behind the fate of these individuals looms the larger tragedy: Hanoi’s longstanding campaign against all independent religious organizations — Buddhist, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, Protestant, Catholic. For almost 14 years now, the ruling Party has systematically repressed traditional religious practices, removed religious leaders who refused to obey official directives, and in time-honored Communist fashion, substituted government-controlled religious bodies to usurp the role of the original ones. This enormously ruthless undertaking is known to relatively few outside Vietnam. This says much about how closed Vietnamese society has become; it also says something about the Western media’s reluctance to investigate the matter.

Shattered Expectations

There was a time when religious activities in Vietnam made the front-page. Twenty-six years ago, widely reported Buddhist-led demonstrations helped turn Western public opinion against President Ngo Dinh Diem. In November 1963, Diem was toppled in a U.S.-backed military coup. Soon thereafter the Unified Buddhist Church (UBC) was created as a single congregation of various schools and sects. While a small, militant faction of the UBC generated a disproportionate amount of publicity during the 1960s in ongoing confrontations with the changing South Vietnamese regimes, thousands of rank and file clergy joined them in the early 1970s in demonstrations for peace and against the government of Nguyen Van Thieu. Buddhist leaders Thich Quang Do, Thich Huyen Quang, and Thich Tuyen An are only three of the many clergy arrested by pre-1975 regimes for op-posing the war. In early 1975, from its headquarters in Saigon at the famous An Quang Pagoda, the UBC denounced Thieu’s final troop mobilization and called for disarmament on both sides.

As it happened, of course, one side disarmed the other. Still, it was with “with much joy and hope” that the UBC welcomed the long-sought peace of April 30, 1975. Three weeks later, 20,000 Buddhists in Saigon gathered to celebrate Ho Chi Minh’s birthday in the only assembly not organized by the government. Believing the “promises of national reconciliation” offered by the Provisional Revolutionary Government (the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was not established until July 2, 1976), Buddhist leaders expected to see implemented the new regime’s “policy of freedom of worship.”

Instead, the UBC faced immediate and repeated violations of this policy. Here is a sample of the sort of incidents it began reporting to government committees:

—June 1975, authorities in Dinh Tuong Province dismantled all meditation and prayer centers and small pagodas and threatened to draft all the monks.

—August 18, 1975, in Long Shau Tien Province, authorities held a meeting where they called for all the religious people to be re-educated. In that re-education session, people were ordered to sign papers dissociating themselves from the Church.

—September 22, 1975, in Ba Xuyen Province, the Buu Long Pagoda was destroyed and the Buddha statue smashed.

—October 21, 1975, in Tuyen Duc Province, when the local Buddhists submitted a request that monks and nuns trained to teach be accepted as teachers, the head of the Tung Nghia Education Program said: “You religious people have no right to request conditions. Only we, the government, have the right to determine conditions. If need be, we will close the church!”

The confiscation of pagodas, the conscription of monks, the harassment of practicing Buddhists, the threats against the very existence of religious institutions — these episodes deeply shocked the UBC.

One incident from Can Tho Province deserves special mention. In late October 1975, the 12 members of the Duoc Su Monastery were planning to conduct a service in memory of two nuns who had immolated themselves protesting for peace several years earlier. The local Revolutionary Committee found out and not only banned the service but also prohibited the Abbot from raising the Buddhist flag; from conducting retreats, fasts, or extended periods of silence; and from accepting new members. In addition, it instructed him retreats, fasts, or extended periods of silence; and from accepting new members. In addition, it instructed him to preach “the glorious historical and great victory of the Revolution” and ordered the community to participate in the political activities of “patriotic organizations.”

The community’s response was unyielding. Given what they and other religious communities had endured over the previous five months, they saw fit to repeat their fallen sisters’ desperate protest. No photographers were on hand to record the searing images of what took place, but Abbot Thich Hue Hien and the others left behind a message explaining their action. It contained an appeal to Communist authorities to “respect the right to freedom of worship of all religions.” This note and a tape recording of a service that the monks and nuns held with local villagers just before the self-immolations took place eventually came into the possession of the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delegation in Paris. The government, meanwhile, tried to cover up the dreadful episode, insisting that “Abbot Hue Hien killed 11 monks and nuns and then burned himself and the monastery.” Other official versions portrayed the Abbot as a “sex criminal.”

The sharp repression — and even more self-immolations — continued throughout the following year. Finally, on March 17, 1977, the UBC sent a memorandum to the SRV Prime Minister detailing 85 cases of repression (four of which are cited above). Earlier that month, UBC Chairman Thich Quang Do had written to fellow monks and nuns about his concern for the survival of the church, urging them to be prepared to sacrifice themselves if necessary. The UBC was at the time especially concerned about 19 Buddhist clergymen who had been imprisoned without trial.

By way of responding to the May 17 memorandum, the central authorities cordoned off the An Quang Pagoda and on April 6, arrested Quang Do, Huyen Quang, and four other UBC leaders. Now they also faced imprisonment without trial. Perhaps in part because of the international attention drawn to this case, SRV authorities finally brought the monks before an official tribunal in December 1978. Government prosecutors accused them of slandering the government, agitating against conscription, “discouraging Buddhist believers from joining revolutionary organizations, and discriminating against participants in patriotic organizations.” Four were given suspended sentences ranging up to seven years, and the other two were released “without punishment.” All had already spent 21 months in prison.

Word of the ongoing persecution reached the West with difficulty. Detailed accounts of the Duoc Su Monastery incident, the arrest of UBC leaders, and other such cases first came to light through the efforts of Thich Man Giac, a member of the UBC Executive Council who, until his escape in the summer of 1977, had been in charge of the Buddhist liaison office with the Communist government. At the urging of UBC leaders, Giac joined a group of Vietnamese looking for someone who could speak Japanese (he had spent six years studying in Tokyo) in order to increase their chances of being rescued. After eight days at sea in a small fishing boat, they landed in Malaysia. Giac then went to Paris where the Vietnamese community translated his smuggled documents and arranged for him to speak before interested European audiences.

Six months later, the Buddhist leader set out for the United States, where he met a different kind of audience. “In Europe, we were welcome everywhere,” Giac’s assistant told a Washington Post reporter in 1978. “Here, no one wants to hear us. We tried to make a press conference, but no one came.” Ten years later, Americans still avoid this topic. Now leader of the Vietnamese Buddhists in the United States, Man Giac was the featured speaker at the conference held last November at the National Press Club in Washington on behalf of the two recently condemned monks. Very few reporters attended.

A Courageous Archbishop

Another story that Man Giac brought with him from Vietnam was that of the Catholic Archbishop of Hue, Nguyen Kim Dien. Following the arrest of the UBC leadership on March 17, 1977, SRV authorities attempted to generate support for their crackdown by staging rallies across the country. Organizers of the event held in Hue on April 15 invited Archbishop Dien to address the people, expecting that he, along with other religious leaders, would join the government in denouncing the arrested Buddhists as “imperialist lackeys” and “spies in religious garb.” Instead, when his turn came, he stood up to proclaim his sympathy for “our Buddhist friends” and then proceeded to discuss “in the most candid manner” the government’s policy on religious and civil rights.

Like the UBC leaders, Dien had initially been disposed to believe the new regime’s promises. As he stated at this rally, “A day after the liberation on April 30, 1975, I heard clearly the official decree of freedom of religion under the new government; I was overjoyed and extremely encouraged.” The rest of his statement explains his subsequent discouragement:

All religious ceremonies are restricted; priests are not allowed to offer services to Catholics such as in new economic zones. In a number of churches Mass is forbidden, or the churches are confiscated….

During the last two years, Catholics have been citizens in theory. In practice, they have been suspected, oppressed everywhere.  Children in schools have constantly been bombarded with anti-Catholic slogans, propaganda, ridicule and false accusations….

Catholics holding public works in hospitals and other charitable institutions are more dedicated to their duties, but they will soon be forced out because they are Catholics. When a Catholic looks for a job, he is either denied outright, or confronted with an insurmountable task. If he wants to know why, it’s whispered in his ears that he must either denounce his faith or cease going to church; then his application will be processed without delay.

Archbishop Dien’s strong objections to the government’s restriction of priestly activity, confiscation of churches, harassment of Catholic children in schools (South Vietnam’s 200 Catholic schools were expropriated in late 1975), and discrimination against Catholic adults at work no doubt surprised those responsible for the rally in Hue, but they quickly recovered. Authorities placed the archbishop under house surveillance and arrested two priests who were distributing his statement. “Progressive” priests then criticized the archbishop in a government-sponsored publication.

Progressive Apologists

This tactic of pitting “progressives” against “reactionaries” is central to Hanoi’s long-term goal of subverting religious institutions like the Catholic Church, which the Vietnamese Communist Party has traditionally seen as a bastion of such “reactionary” forces. Back in 1954, few Catholics in northern Vietnam cheered when the Viet Minh defeated the French and the non-Communist nationalists. Following the Geneva peace accords that partitioned Vietnam soon thereafter, 850,000 people fled to the non-Communist South. Though never numbering more than 7 percent of the total population (Buddhists account for between 80 and 90 percent) Catholics accounted for an extraordinary 70 percent of this exodus. Staunch anti-Communists, these Catholics played an important role in the hostilities that broke out once Hanoi officially dispatched its first regimental units into South Vietnam a decade later, in 1964.

Another exodus began 11 years later when Saigon fell on April 30, 1975. Aware of what had befallen the Church in the North over the preceding two decades, a disproportionate number of Catholics were again among the millions of South Vietnamese who fled by land and sea. The new regime immediately sent all “reactionary” military chaplains (as many as 300) to “re-education” camps and expelled Vatican envoy Henri LeMaitre. His replacement, Sesto Quercetti, S.J., met the same fate a year later. Eventually, all foreign Catholic priests were forced to leave. Deputy Archbishop of Saigon Nguyen Van Thuan, a nephew of former President Diem, was criticized for his “collusion with colonialists” in the summer of 1975. He was arrested soon thereafter.

Not all Catholic priests, however, were branded “reactionary.” In part because of the influence of recent philosophical and political trends, the Catholic hierarchy was less homogenous in the South than it had been in the North 20 years earlier. Toward the end of the Vietnam War, even staunchly anti-communist priests like Tran Huu Thanh, chairman of the famous Anti-corruption Campaign, were protesting against President Thieu (himself a Catholic). Beside them were communist-sympathizing priests, whom Hanoi called the “progressives.” It was estimated that in 1975 this group consisted of only about a dozen priests (out of a total 3,000). Some had earlier worked in secret with the National Liberation Front; later they openly collaborated with the new regime’s “patriotic” organizations.

All other priests were labeled either “indecisives” or “partisans of adaptation.” Before Archbishop Dien’s outspoken speech in 1977, authorities must have figured that he could be nudged from the former to the latter category. They have apparently tried to make Archbishop Nguyen Van Binh of Ho Chi Minh City one such “partisan.” Ginetta Sagan and Stephen Denney write in their 1983 Aurora Foundation report that Archbishop Binh “has continued his policy of cooperation by trying to maintain good relations with the SRV, hoping thereby to preserve the Church.” Although one of the first targets of the “progressive” priests, the archbishop has also been aligned with them.

Sagan and Denny write that “he has made some favorable statements about the government, which have been quoted in the Western press, and has been interviewed over the last six years by several Western visitors, especially believers in the theology of liberation.” His real concern for the Church’s preservation, however, has rarely been heard. A partial explanation is provided by Nguyen Van Canh, who writes in his 1983 book Vietnam Under Communism that two North Vietnamese soldiers were seen in Archbishop Binh’s car wherever he went.

Traditional Institutions Besieged

The ruling Communist Party’s policy toward religion was articulated by Pham Quang Hieu in a 1970 issue of the Hanoi publication Hoc Tap. Regarding the Catholic Church, Hieu called upon local authorities to “help the faithful and the patriotic priests to fight the reactionaries, to develop their democratic rights with respect to their religion for the purpose of making their church an organization obedient to the policies and laws of the State, thus conforming to the new society.” Later appointed head of the Vietnamese Religions Board (part of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat) Hieu became closely involved in the government’s efforts to transform all once-independent religious institutions into pliant mouthpieces for the prevailing political orthodoxy.

A good example is the effort by SRV authorities to orchestrate the establishment of an officially sponsored Catholic organization. On May 17, 1983, the SRV’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations issued a bulletin that bore the following headline: “Catholic Church Council Convenes 2nd General Assembly.” The Bulletin describes this Catholic Council as having been founded in May 1980. Hoang Quoc Viet, then President of the Front Central Committee, is listed as a visiting dignitary at the May 1983 meeting who applauded “the contributions of the Catholics to the building and defense of socialist Vietnam.” That line has frequently emanated from the corresponding government-controlled Buddhist organization.

A more controversial development was the creation in November 1983 of the Committee for Solidarity of Patriotic Vietnamese Catholics. Staffed by “progressive” priests such as Pham Quang Phuoc, a member of the National Assembly in Hanoi, this Committee was immediately criticized by the Catholic hierarchy in southern Vietnam. Archbishop Binh of Ho Chi Minh City publicly warned the government against follow-ing Peking’s example of seeking to alienate Catholics from Rome. Reporting from Rome on May 11, 1984, on the basis of information that had reached the Vatican, New York Times correspondent Henry Kamm wrote that Archbishop Dien of Hue “suspended from his functions the only priest of the diocese active in the committee” and that Bishop Nguyen Van Lan of Xuan Loc “admonished his priests who went to Hanoi [the site of the founding meeting] and forbade them to continue on the committee.”

The government reacted as one might expect. According to Kamm, SRV authorities showed their “determination to strike back by calling in for sustained interrogation the bishops and priests who resist the patriotic committee.” On the basis of Church sources, he continued, “all interrogations were marked by insults to the Pope and those obeying him.” The immediate cause for this abuse seems clear. On May 10, the day before Kamm filed his story, a recorded message from Pope John Paul II to the people of Vietnam was transmitted by Radio Veritas in the Philippines. Then in Thailand on the last stop of his 11-day tour of Asia, he encouraged his besieged flock to remain united: “May your closeness to your bishops never fail as you stay close to Jesus Christ and his Church.”

It has been the singular fortune of these Catholics to have on their side a globe-trotting pontiff familiar with the dynamics of Communist regimes. The Pope’s keen interest in their situation makes Rome perhaps the best source’ of news about Vietnam, though “progressive” Catholics in Vietnam —and elsewhere — might disagree. Apparently with the likes of Henry Kamm in mind, the controversial Catholic Council “strongly denounced” the news media in the West for “distorting” the SRV’s policy toward Catholics. The Council also expressed solidarity with “the people and Catholics in Nicaragua and El Salvador in their struggles against the U.S. imperialists’ scheme of aggression and interference.”

A Modest Revival

The Catholic Council might have been more pleased with an article written a year-and-a-half ago by the New York Times’s Southeast Asian correspondent, Barbara Crossette.  Her August 29, 1987, article depicts the reopening of the second Catholic seminary in all of Vietnam as emblematic of “a modest revival” for the Church there. A few statistics not mentioned by Crossette reveal just how modest. In 1973, the last year for which figures are available, 4,399 students were enrolled in South Vietnam’s minor diocesan seminaries, and another 1,056 in the five major seminaries. Additionally, there were a number of seminarians in various orders and congregations. Even discounting the effect of the war on vocations, those are extremely high figures for a Catholic population that numbered only 1.8 million at the time. According to Crossette, at the newly reopened St. Joseph’s Seminary in Ho Chi Minh City authorities admitted 49 students.

Even more telling than these numbers, however, are the substantive changes in curriculum dictated by the new regime. According to an article in Indian Theological Studies, the government has placed definite ideological constraints upon these “training centers for specialists in religious activities.” Communist Party Decree 297 (article 3, chapter II) states:

The contents of what is taught should not be contrary to the law, the orientations and the political line of the State…. The directors of the Department for Education have the responsibility to supervise the syllabus and contents of what is taught and to organize for the students the diffusion of news and of political orientations.

This law applied to schools for all religions. In this context it is worth pointing out that from the moment Saigon was “liberated” in 1975 authorities began introducing political teaching at all levels of education; at the seminary level this included such topics as the elements of Marxism, Leninism, revolutionary ethics, socialist economy, and the history of socialism.

Yet curricular supervision is only one element of the government’s overall control of seminaries. Decree 297 also stipulates approval of each student and instructor by the relevant People’s Committees, conditions ordination or appointment upon similar official approval, requires the same approval for any transfer of these “specialists in religious affairs,” and allows lay people to assist the clergy only if they, too, have been approved by regional authorities. These rules are apparently what Archbishop Dien had in mind in 1977 when he initially denounced government restrictions on religious life.

Interestingly enough, Barbara Crossette was able to talk to this famous archbishop in preparing her 1987 article. “Here we are, two old priests in our 70s in this big house,” he said walking though the old rectory at the Cathedral of the Mother of Perpetual Help. “Who will replace us?” That question, one of his last publicly recorded statements, was uncannily prophetic: almost a year later, on June 15, 1988, the Archdiocese of Hue lost its celebrated leader.

How Dien Died

The circumstances of Archbishop Dien’s death are not entirely clear. Vietnam Domestic Service reported on June 16, 1988, that the archbishop died in a Ho Chi Minh City hospital of heart trouble. That may well be, but when a famous dissident like Dien dies in a Communist (state-run) hospital, it is only natural to suspect government complicity. At any rate, Vietnamese exiles, who generally assume the worst yet often have access to the most accurate information, believe that the archbishop died last summer from a lethal injection.

Dien’s death is even more troubling when seen within a broader context. Last June 19 (three days before Dien’s death), during a Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father canonized 117 martyrs of Vietnam, 96 of Vietnamese nationality and the other 21 European missionaries. These were Catholics whom Vietnamese civil authorities had killed during the first three-and-a-half centuries of a Christian evangelization that began in 1533. The Vietnamese Communist government had waged a major campaign to denounce the Vatican’s celebration of this event, objecting not only to the date — which happened to fall on the former Armed Forces Day — but to the canonization itself. From the official standpoint, these Vietnamese were not moral exemplars but rather collaborators with an intrinsically evil colonial power.

Whether Archbishop Dien’s disagreement with the authorities over the issue of canonization was at all related to the hospital treatment he received last June is a matter for speculation. What is beyond question, however, is that for over a decade the government had subjected him to constant harassment. A common tactic was to arrest those under his jurisdiction, like the two priests who distributed copies of the statement he made in 1977. After protesting the creation of the Committee for Solidarity in 1984, authorities interrogated him repeatedly over the course of four months. The final appeal he wrote to SRV Prime Minister Nguyen Van Lin last March brought little relief to him or any of his colleagues. According to Vietnamese exiles, last August Bishop Lan of Xuen Loc also died under suspicious circumstances. Like Dien, he had opposed the Committee for Solidarity.

These two deaths have yet to be fully investigated. Nor are they likely to be if Western journalists, now enthusiastic over Vietnamese-style perestroika, insist on treating the SRV with the same kid gloves they used in commemorating the tenth anniversary of Saigon’s fall nearly four years ago. Good reporting, however, occasionally appears. One noteworthy example is found in the December 1988 issue of the Atlantic, where James Fallows, who has been reporting from Asia for the past two-and-a-half years, offers an insightful snapshot of current life in Vietnam.

One member of the tour group that Fallows joined last summer was a disguised German priest “who would sneak into Catholic churches at each stop and try to make contact with the local clergy.” As a result, Fallows made some observations pertinent to the topic at hand. “The guides told us that of course there is complete freedom of religion,” he writes, “but it certainly did not look or feel that way.” After observing an anxious encounter between this priest and a Vietnamese counterpart, Fallows says of the latter: “I don’t know exactly what retribution he expected, but he was obviously afraid of something.” Given the events of last summer, one can imagine what he feared.

The Next Step

Does this record of religious persecution have anything to do with the continuing talk of political reconciliation between Hanoi and Washington? It can safely be said, first of all, that normalization of relations with Vietnam will not turn on this issue alone. The U.S. government maintains diplomatic relations with other countries that have been no less brutal than the Vietnamese Communist Party in repressing religion. As the issue is now framed, recognition of the SRV will depend upon such factors as the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia, the state of the Vietnamese economy, and progress on unresolved MIA questions. The results of any investigation into the deaths of Archbishops Dien and Lin, or any of the several Buddhist leaders who have perished under the government’s care, would probably have little to do with it.

That said, such an international investigation into those deaths and, moreover, additional pressure on behalf of incarcerated believers are efforts worth pursuing. One wonders what approach the new U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. is inclined to take in these matters. Moreover, one wonders what American religious leaders think. It is only natural to suppose that religious groups would be the most offended by gross violations of religious liberty. Alas, where Vietnam is concerned, that presumption does not necessarily hold.

The tendency of some American religious activists to overlook such violations derives in part from anti-war enthusiasms of an earlier day. On December 4, 1969, the NCC adopted a resolution containing the following argument: “If it be feared that peace will involve confusion and turmoil in South Vietnam, we believe that the present fighting causes worse confusion and turmoil.” Eight years later, in the face of massive evidence to the contrary, various NCC officials signed an advertisement published in the New York Times on January 30, 1977, that said the Vietnamese government “should be hailed for its moderation and for its extraordinary effort to achieve reconciliation among all its people.” Today the Church World Service, the NCC’s relief arm, remains at the forefront of those who advocate Western economic assistance to the SRV.

Fortunately, some American religious leaders are beginning to insist on internal reforms within Vietnam as well. As reported in the New York Times, on their recent trip to Vietnam Archbishops Roger M. Mahony, Theodore E. McCarrick, and Edward T. O’Meara “called for the release of priests and nuns remaining in detention and for an end to discrimination against Catholics in employment and schooling.” At the same time, however, the bishops are advocating diplomatic reconciliation, the position taken in a document drawn up last fall by the United States Catholic Conference (USCC). An official statement will be issued at the bishops’ next meeting in June. It remains to be seen whether they will press for religious liberty as assiduously as for normalization of governmental relations.

One hopes — perhaps against all hope — that broad-based moral support will emerge for the protection of religious freedom in Vietnam. Given the general indifference of the media, it remains for those who regard religious liberty as “the first freedom” to publicize Hanoi’s contrary view of the matter. The SRV’s record of persecution is long and shameful. As Thich Man Giac put it at the news conference on November 2, “When asked about religious persecution in Vietnam, I can talk and talk without cease.” It is time that more people began to listen.


At the time this article was published, Jonathan B. Tombes was assistant editor of The National Interest.

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