Vietnam: Social Media as a Catalyst For Change

“What do you think is religious freedom?”

That’s the question posed in a video by the Association to Protect Freedom of Religion (APFOR), a Vietnamese organisation which aims to help “everyone in Vietnam fulfil their right to freedom of religion”.

By Hội Bảo Vệ Quyền Tự Do Tôn Giáo – What do you think is religious freedom

“A fundamental human right,” says one young interviewee.

“People have the right to express their beliefs and live according to certain religious doctrines,” comments another, this time a mechanic.

“True freedom of religion means different religions can be spread,” adds a construction worker.

The video goes on to include comments from independent researchers, legal professionals and religious followers, ending with an invitation to the viewer to share her or his own thoughts on Facebook.

APFOR have since produced another video, equally well-made and insightful, this time looking at a new draft law on religion and belief which is likely to be passed in Vietnam in 2016.

By Hội Bảo Vệ Quyền Tự Do Tôn Giáo – The right to religion, have to wait for approval?

Vietnam’s controversial draft Law on Belief and Religion

This second video was posted on Facebook in November 2015, just as the draft law was being debated at the National Assembly. It’s already proving to be a controversial issue. In a welcome move towards some degree of engagement, the government solicited feedback on the fourth draft of the law from religious organisations in spring 2015. The Government Religious Committee held several meetings with registered religious groups to discuss the law, and unregistered or independent groups have also publicised their analysis of the draft law, as have Vietnamese lawyers and international civil society organisations.

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