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Vietnam accused of widespread human rights abuses

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:03 a.m. HST, Jan 25, 2011

HANOI, Vietnam — Human Rights Watch is calling on the United States to return Vietnam to a list of the world's worst abusers of religious freedom, accusing it of continuously harassing some groups trying to worship peacefully.

The U.S.-based group singled Vietnam out in a statement Tuesday, a day after releasing its annual global report on human rights. It says the Communist government continues to crack down on religious groups not recognized by Hanoi.

Several religious leaders, including pro-democracy dissident Catholic priest Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, continue to be detained by police. Hanoi maintains only lawbreakers are jailed.

Vietnam's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a query about the Human Rights Watch report.

Vietnam was removed from the U.S. government's list of countries of particular concern for denying religious freedom in 2006, but a congressionally backed panel recommended it be reinstated last year. Human Rights Watch is calling for Vietnam to be added to the list this year.

The State Department's official list of countries of particular concern includes Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

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