Although the Vietnamese Communist government claims to respect religious freedom, many officials continue to harass and persecute Christians, especially among the ethnic minorities. Arbitrary treatment of religious groups is commonplace, and even government policy on religion appears to be highly inconsistent: although in 2004-2005, a new legislative framework for religious freedom was set out, yet official government documents mandate local authorities in the north-west to force Christians to surrender their faith. New procedures for the registration of churches are complicated and unevenly implemented, causing considerable confusion among unregistered churches. Since Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization in 2006, the government has begun a fresh crackdown, including targeting Christian human rights defenders.
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