While reports of arrests of, or attacks on, Buddhists in Vietnam are not frequent, the religious community has for decades lived in a perpetual atmosphere of persecution, which cannot be quantified by the number of “incidents” but instead manifests through official and unofficial restrictions imposed by the Southeast Asian country’s communist government.
“The Communist Party is really afraid of every movement that has the support of the population,” said Vo Tran Nhat, executive secretary of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization founded in Paris in 1975. Vietnam’s government doesn’t only believe that communism is incompatible with Buddhist teachings, but it also sees any assembly or association outside of its control as a threat to its one-party rule.
Speaking to The Diplomat, via StoriesAsia, at the Taiwan International Religious Freedom Forum in Hsinchu City in June, Tran Nhat explained that although he himself is not religious, he cares a great deal about the Buddhists and minority Christians, who raise their voices against oppression and injustice. If Buddhists lose their religion, Vietnam would lose its “soul,” he warned.