BPSOS and its acts of sabotage under the guise of democracy and human rights

WVR - The reactionary organization Boat People SOS (BPSOS) regularly commits acts against Vietnam under the guise of democracy and human rights.

In so doing, BPSOS carries out sabotage activities, including utilizing social media and online forums to distort the human rights situation in Vietnam, illegally urge countries and international human rights mechanisms to intervene and put pressure on Vietnam and agitate few opportunists in Vietnam to cause division to the country’s great national solidarity.

BPSOS and its acts of sabotage
General Confederation of Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South) convenes its 48th General Assembly. (Photo: VNA)

The reactionary nature of BPSOS

BPSOS was founded in 1980 as a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in San Diego, California (USA) with the purpose of helping Vietnamese refugees in the US.

In 1990, Nguyen Dinh Thang took over as the Executive Chairman of BPSOS. Since then, he has changed the organization’s original purposes, gradually steering its activities deeper into the issues of “democracy”, “human rights”, “ethnicity", "religion", and turning it into an overseas reactionary organization. BPSOS conducts fiercely anti-Vietnam activities, directly infringing upon the national security of Vietnam.

In the name of an NGO operating to "rescue refugees", Nguyen Dinh Thang calls for funding for its operations from the Vietnamese community in the US and Canada. However, Thang and BPSOS soon revealed the nature of profiteering for personal purposes.

Over the years, under the guise of counseling and supporting refugees, Nguyen Dinh Thang and BPSOS have employed all kinds of tricks to portray themselves as an influential humanitarian organization capable of affecting US officials and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to help people settle down in the United States or other Western countries. However, these are merely false promises. In fact, thousands of Vietnamese people who illegally left the country are being abandoned and have to live in the shadow.

Exploiting the support of some foreign politicians and Western organizations who think unfavorably of Vietnam, PBSOS has participated in a number of international forums.

At these forums, Nguyen Dinh Thang has often disserminated distorted information on the human rights situation in Vietnam, launching campaigns such as the "Plaintiffs letter" or "Vietnamese Americans claim property" to call on the politicians of many countries to pass human rights bills to press Vietnam to release certain convicts who have violated Vietnamese law. BPSOS has also called on US Congressmen to put pressure on Vietnam, hindering efforts to improve Vietnam-US bilateral relations...

Moreover, BPSOS intends to "transform Vietnamese democracy" in the Western image and gather forces aiming to form about 1,000 associations and civil groups in Vietnam in the name of "democracy and human rights".

Through these groups, BPSOS has collected information, conducted reports, and compiled hundreds of profiles which have been considered as the so-called "human rights violations" in Vietnam over the past 15 years to accuse Vietnam of "suppressing democracy and human rights" and "having no religious freedom" at international forums; thereby lobbying the US Government and the international community to intervene and put pressure on Vietnam.

BPSOS and its acts of sabotage
Ensuring the right to freedom of belief and religion for people in Vietnam. (Photo: WVR)

In collaboration with other exile organizations working against Vietnam, especially at a time when Vietnam and the European Union (EU) signed the Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and an Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) in February 2020, BPSOS and a number of other reactionary overseas Vietnamese organizations signed the so-called "Letter to the EU Parliament" to protest the International Trade Commission (INTA) allowing Vietnam to join the EVFTA and EVIPA; or taking advantage of the complicated situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, sent a joint letter requesting the US Department of State and Department of Treasury to apply sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act to Vietnam for "escalating human rights violations", "religious persecution"...

BPSOS activities show that they advocate establishing foundations and providing training for domestic opponents to promote the so-called civil society and form opposing religious associations and groups in Vietnam.

BPSOS has worked closely with other overseas reactionary organizations, training extremist political opportunists in the country, instructing them to act and collecting information. In foreign countries, they recruit people who are dissatisfied with the country’ system and use them as living witnesses to approach Western officials, BPSOS has sent reports, petitions to accuse Vietnam of violating democracy, human rights, and suppressing religious freedom. This information is completely baseless as it has been distorted and fabricated in order to degrade Vietnam's position in the international arena.

BPSOS regularly organizes forums online via social network platforms. Recently, BPSOS organized 4 discussions within the framework of the Southeast Asia Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief (SEAFORB) 2022 with many contents distorting the situation of religious freedom in Vietnam and use them as pretext to call on countries and international human rights mechanisms to pressure and interfere in Vietnam's internal affairs.

Reality of the practice of beliefs and religions in Vietnam

Vietnam is a country with many beliefs and religions. The majority of followers of religious dignitaries are patriots who support national solidarity and mutual assistance. Over the course of history, many religious dignitaries have actively participated in the cause of revolution and the struggle for national liberation, national reunification, and the cause of national construction and defense.

The consistent and cross-cutting policy of the Communist Party of Vietnam is to respect and guarantee the people's right to freedom of belief and religion. The Resolution of the 13th National Congress of the Communisty Party of Vietnam affirmed that: "Focus on improving and well implementing policies on ethnicity and religion; well implementing religious solidarity and great national unity...”

BPSOS and its acts of sabotage
The Buddhist Church held the United Nations Day of Vesak 2019 in Ha Nam. (Photo: VNA)

The 2013 Constitution affirmed: "Everyone has the right to freedom of belief and religion, and has the right to follow any religion or to follow no religion. All religions are equal before law. The State shall respect and protect the freedom of belief and religion. No one may violate the freedom of belief and religion, nor may anyone take advantage of a belief or religion in order to violate the law.” (Article 24). It is strictly forbidden to “infringe on freedom of belief or religion or take advantage of a belief or religion in order to violate the law.” This spirit has been concretized in the Vietnamese legal system and is guaranteed and respected in practice.

With the correct guidelines, policies and laws on belief and religion, over the years, Vietnam has made great achievements in ensuring the people's freedom of belief and religion, facilitating religious activities as never before. As of November 2021, Vietnam has more than 26.5 million religious followers (an increase of more than 57,000 followers compared to 2020), accounting for 28% of the country's population.

There are 43 organizations of 16 different religions registered and recognized by the State. As of 2020, the Central Highlands region has about 580 thousand Protestants belonging to 33 Protestant organizations, denominations and groups practicing Protestant in 311 branches, 183 churches, more than 1,700 group points recognized by local authorities.

For religious groups that have not been officially recognized or registered, local authorities still guarantee freedom of religious activities for believers at home or at lawfully registered group meeting points.

Furthermore, Vietnam has also created favorable conditions for religious organizations to expand their international relations. Every year, hundreds of domestic religious dignitaries are facilitated to participate in religious activities abroad. Many foreign dignitaries are welcome to Vietnam to participate in religious activities.

More than that, Vietnam is also chosen as the venue to organize various major religious activities of the world such as: Catholics organize the World General Assembly of the Dominican Order in Dong Nai; Protestantism celebrates 100 years of evangelization in Vietnam; the Buddhist Church held the United Nations Day of Vesak 2019 in Ha Nam...

The ensuring of religious freedoms is continuously improving. Books of religious organizations are published in 13 ethnic languages. Religion has always been an integral part of the cause of the construction and defense of the country. More than 6,200 dignitaries, officials, monks and followers of religions have been elected as deputies to the 15th National Assembly and People's Councils at all levels for the 2021-2026 term.

It should be emphasized that, like other normal activities of society, religious activities in Vietnam have to be conducted within the framework of Vietnamese law. It is strictly prohibited to take advantage of religion to violate the laws of Vietnam. In any given country, religious activities need to be managed to ensure that they operate in accordance with their principles, purposes, and in compliance with the law. No religion is allowed to stand outside or stand above national interests. This is completely consistent with international law.

Recently, some local authorities have prevented the act of law violation of some believers and parishioners; arrested a number of dignitaries, religious followers and citizens for taking advantage of beliefs and religions to oppose public officials, affecting local security and order... Vietnamese media has fully and transparently reported on these incidents, therefore, there is absolutely no cases of authorities infringing upon the right to religious freedom or "persecuting" monks and religious believers as the BPSOS has claimed.

As of November 2021, Vietnam has more than 26.5 million religious followers (an increase of more than 57,000 people compared to 2020), accounting for 28% of the country's population. There are 43 organizations belonging to 16 different religions recognized and registered by the State.

In Vietnam, the people's right to freedom of belief and religion is really respected and better guaranteed to be implemented, which is an undeniable fact; This has been recognized by the international community.

In 2019, in the video clip "David Lee – Heartfelt talk on the afternoon of May 2, 2019" on his Youtube channel, Vietnamese-American Davis Lee stated: "Some priests whose speeches go against the teaching of the Catholic Church are still hailed as a "national hero" such as Father Nguyen Duy Tan or a few Redemptorist priests. Any priest, who is sincere with love, will be put up with a Communist hat.”

In particular, with its achievements in ensuring human rights over the years, Vietnam has been selected by ASEAN countries as the only candidate for the membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the term of 2023 - 2025.

The practice of ensuring the right to freedom of belief and religion in Vietnam is a clear and strong argument to refute all un-objective remarks and slanderous claims. Vietnam welcomes positive and constructive comments to contribute to promoting the religious life in Vietnam, to create favorable conditions for religions to develop in tandem with the nation on the basis of supremacy of the law.

At the same time, it has to take resolute action against taking advantage of the issue of religious freedom to incite against Vietnam and infringe its national security. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the hidden nature of BPSOS under disguised human rights and democracy to go against the interests of the country, so that religious compatriots as well as the whole people have more confidence in the direction, policies of the Party and State, beware of the incitement and manipulation.

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Translated by Thai Nguyen