BURMA: Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Pwint Phyu Latt & Zaw Zaw Latt Released

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed satisfaction that the government of Burma has released prisoners of conscience Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Zaw Latt. They were released along with more than 250 other prisoners Burma’s government freed as part of a presidential amnesty.

USCIRF Vice Chairman Daniel Mark, who has advocated on behalf of Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Zaw Latt, stated that he “welcomed this long-overdue step by Burma’s government. Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Zaw Latt, both Muslim, were wrongfully imprisoned for their interfaith activities. Although I welcome and applaud their release, the fact remains that they never should have been imprisoned in the first place. I hope their release signals a more positive trajectory for the freedom of religion or belief in Burma.”

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VIETNAM: At a Crossroads, 10 Years after CPC Designation

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the 10th anniversary of the State Department’s removal of Vietnam’s designation as a “country of particular concern” (or CPC), the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) sees a country that has made progress but still has a long way to go before it fully respects religious freedom. USCIRF also watches with concern as the Vietnamese National Assembly is poised to vote on a new law governing religion.

“Vietnam is at a crossroads,” explains USCIRF Chair Thomas J. Reese, S.J. “Its government needs to stop oppressing believers and enact legislation that respects religious freedom. If it does not, USCIRF will have to continue calling for its designation as a country of particular concern.”

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Vatican continues talks with Vietnam

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A Vietnamese Delegation to the Vatican has concluded its visit and there are postivie outcomes. The two sides acknowledged the progress in Vietnam – Holy See relations, including regular contacts and consultations, the exchange of high level delegations and frequent pastoral visits to Vietnam by the papal representative and non-resident special envoy, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli.

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