04/05/2006, 00.00
VIETNAM

More violence against Hmong in the northern Vietnam

Freedom House denounces threats by police to force people to recant, as well as the seizure of lands and houses.

Washington (AsiaNews/FH) – At least 22 Hmong Christian leaders are sought after by Vietnamese police for evangelizing outside official structures. Other worshippers are being threatened to force them to recant; some have been expelled from their homes and villages. These charges have been leveled by Freedom House, the Centre of Religious Freedom. This American organization for human rights has based its claims of original documents and information from Vietnam.

The Centre came into possession of a document of the government of Bac Quang district, in the northern province of Ha Giang, that is hatching a persecution campaign against the underground Hmong Christian community in the region. The document dated 9 December 2005 is entitled: "The Plan on Assigning Forces to Fight and Control the Individuals Who Lead Illegal Religious Propagation" and it lists the names and addresses of 22 Christian leaders being sought by local authorities.

Local sources told the centre many Christian families have been chased away from their land because of their faith.  Some Hmong families of Ma Sao village were denied residence papers only because they were "Christians", which appeared in the form they filled in Bat Xat district (Lao Cai province).

In March 2006, Giang A Teng, a Hmong Christian from Vi Lau village, told the official evangelical church of Hanoi about police and border guard threats to force him to abandon his faith and to return to his ancestral cult. When he refused, the police expelled him from his home and land. The Christian said one of the government representatives, Vu A Mang, secretary of the Trinh Tuong Commune, "destroyed our house and confiscated our land for the sole reason that we did not abandon our Christian faith."

The Centre recalled other violations against Christians in Dien Bien province in October and November 2005, and said the position held by the Vietnamese Prime Minister, Phan Van Kai, was false. In February 2005, Phan launched the "Special Instruction Regarding Protestantism" that "outlawed attempts to force people to follow a religion or deny a religion."

In May 2005, Vietnam made a commitment with the United States to respect religious freedom.

For decades, the Hmong people, together with other hill tribes, have been subject to persecution from the Vietnamese government. They have always been suspected of having fought with the United States in the Vietnam war. Often persecution – land seizure and arrests - is prompted by the expansion of Vietnamese groups towards Montagnard land. In recent years, thousands of Hmong have been forced to seek asylum. Often those who escape to Cambodia and Laos are repatriated to Vietnam.

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See also
Persecutions and threats against Christians and Buddhists
02/01/2004
Protestant clergyman sentenced to three years in prison
12/11/2004
More torture of Montagnard Christians reported
24/10/2006
Montagnard Christian "must remain in jail" even after death
19/07/2006
Another Christian dies of ill treatment in Vietnamese prisons
12/05/2006