Official Recognition for Baha'is of Vietnam

March 27, 2007

I wanted to share with you my excitement at hearing this piece of positive news about religious freedom:

In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, about 280 people attended a reception where the government Committee for Religious Affairs presented a certificate giving recognition to Baha'i activities.

The state news agency announced the reception and quoted Ngo Yen Thi, head of the Committee for Religious Affairs, as saying, "The State policy on religion respects and ensures freedom of belief and religion for all Vietnamese citizens as stipulated in the country's first constitution in 1946 and in revised versions."

(Baha'i World News Service, March 21, 2006)

The main statistic I can find for the number of Baha'is in Vietnam claims some 350,000; however, I find these numbers highly suspect as the same source claims around 750,000 Baha'is in the U.S.A, when most other estimates say under 200,000 (including the Baha'is themselves).

Anyway, there are a fair number of Baha'is there, despite official persecution during the 1960s. In 2002 the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in a letter to Secretary Powell regarding religious freedom in Vietnam, wrote that "the Vietnamese government has refused to register or permit any activity of Baha'i adherents, whose membership in Vietnam before 1976 counted close to 200,000."

It is heartening to see such a turn around from the Vietnamese government, especially in light of the continuing official persecution Baha'is face in their Founder's homeland of Iran.