10/19/2019, 08.05
VIETNAM
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Authorities seek to break Hmong funeral traditions

The ethnic group is known for its ceremonies, which can last up to a week. The ruling Communist Party wants to " create awareness among the people about changing or eliminating old customs”. Many Hmong follow Dạo Dương Văn Mình and suspend the bodies of the dead for days.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/RFA) – Vietnamese authorities have launched a campaign to limit the length and scale of funeral ceremonies linked to traditional beliefs.

Ethnic minority rights activists say the plan unfairly targets ethnic Hmong whose funeral ceremonies can last up to a week.

The goal is "to create awareness among the people about changing or eliminating old customs and practices in funerals,” local media announced the campaign on 9 October.

Likewise, state media reported that changes will “contribute to building a healthy and civilized cultural environment, while consolidating solidarity among the people, stabilizing security and order, increasing confidence of the people in the [Communist] Party and the State”.

According to Hà Giang, a newspaper in the north-eastern province of the same name, the authorities in Mèo Vạc district have already announced how they want to scale back Hmong funeral services.

This includes fewer animals slaughtered in honour of the deceased because of cost and the nuisance it causes to communities; restrictions on the practice of burning counterfeit money and throwing votive paper on streets during funeral processions; and lastly, limits on the amount of time a body can lay unburied.

Hmong number in the millions. About nine million live in China, almost 600,000 in Laos, about 250,000 in Thailand and more than 260,000 in the United States. According to official data, Vietnam was home to more than a million Hmong in 2009.

In Vietnam, Hmong are often victims of persecution and discrimination by Communist authorities because, during the Vietnam War, many of them fought on the side of the United States.

About 300,000 Vietnamese Hmong are Christian according to estimates by some International groups.

One of their most important religions is Dạo Dương Văn Mình, which combines animism and ancestor worship. It is customary for them, in the case of death, to suspend the body of the deceased in the family home for several days.

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