To answer the question of whether the detention, of more than one year, inside the exorcism house, of the student Le Thi Kim Lien from the school of tourism of Ho Chi Minh city, was wrongful or justified, a Pastor of Evangelical denomination, who is also a human rights activist in Vietnam, has sent a letter responding to this question, as asked by the Students for Human Rights Association to him.
As quoted from the letter:
I have several legal aspects that need to be clarified as follows:
- In accordance with the Vietnamese constitution.
- As a mature adult, Miss Lien has every qualification as a citizen to exercise her right to FREEDOM OF BELIEF AND RELIGION.
- Miss Lien is to exercise such right in accordance with the constitution 2013, Article 24, Chapter 2, which states that a citizen has the right to:
- Choose to follow a belief or religion of their choice, or not to follow any belief or religion.
- To be respected and protected by the law. In particular, under the law that prohibits the violation of the freedom of belief and religion, and the law that prohibits unlawful acts done under the name of freedom of belief and religion.
- In accordance with International Law.
- The International Declaration of Human Rights on 10th December 1948, Article 18.
- The International Convention for Civil and Political Rights 1966, also in Article 18.
All of the aforementioned articles stated that the rights to follow a religion, or to convert to another religion, or to renounce a religion, are the rights that are to be protected under the International Law, and whoever violates these rights are also violating International Law. There are many other legal articles in the Vietnamese as well as International Laws, such as United Nations’ Charter 1945, or both of the Vietnamese Civil Law and Penal Code, which also consider the freedom of belief and religion a right to be protected.
Dear readers, the harm done from detaining Miss Lien under the hands of her parents and the religious organization, whose justification are for religious reason or under the name of religion, does constitute criminal offence, as it is:
- Unlawful arrest and detention of a person.
- A violation of the civil right to freedom of belief and religion.
- Causing damages to the person’s dignity and reputation.
- Causing damages to the person’s physical and psychological wellbeing, as well as destroying the person’s prospects of education and career.
These are my analyses of the legal aspects.
If the situation turns detrimental, such as Miss Lien facing dangers towards her life due to her religious faith, we have every right to demand the law to intervene in the matter and urgently rescue Miss Lien.
Conflicts in religious beliefs can be inherently complex and sensitive, due to a number of reasons:
- Family tradition becoming the ‘customary law’. This can also happen with religious tradition.
- Lack of awareness about the law.
- Poor ability to analyze religious issue critically.
- A society being severely deprived of freedom, liberty, justice, fairness, inability for civilized behaviours and mannerisms, as well as deprivation of assistance from Civil Society Organizations.
- I fully understand that with matters as damaging as this, the authority takes an important role. However, their response is merely being ‘It’s up to them…’.
While it is necessary for us to do whatever we can to help Miss Lien, it is also essential to understand the sensitivity and subtlety of the matter, in order to maintain our calmness and composure while dealing with this situation, if we are to have the ability to patiently engage with those religious officials and leaders, and to build our credibility while negotiating with these people.
I wish you all strive towards peace, justice and fairness in order to build our country a better place.
The end of the main content of the letter.
Pastor Duong Kim Khai also responded to us when we asked for his comment on this matter as follow:
‘If this incident happens to be true, first of all the unlawfulness of the act in accordance with the current Vietnamese laws has already been stated in the quote by the Pastors. Secondly, it is also a violation of human rights in accordance with the United Nations’ Charter and Convention on International human rights, also as quoted above (by the aforementioned Pastor).
I highly condemn the behaviour of the previous religious group of her sisters and her family, which went against the morality of the religion and the belief. It is at the same time against the current Vietnamese laws both in terms of civil and criminal laws, as well as it being a blatant breach of the Charter and human rights as stated under the International Law.’
Some photos of Kim Lien:
If you have any disagreeing opinion to this article, please send it to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. The sender please also clearly state their personal contact details, or the contact details of the organization they are representing. Students for Human Rights Association does not accept messages from unnamed sources or blackmails.
The article is a part of the Project for Protecting the Dignity of Female Students, as led by the Vietnamese Students for Human Rights Association.
Translated by a close-friend of us who now live in Australia.