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    » 05/09/2011, 00.00


    Vietnam unleashes wave of repression against Hmong Christians, at least 49 dead

    Emily Nguyen

    Army and security forces attack thousands of demonstrators calling for reforms and respect for religious freedom. Hundreds of arrests and disappearances. Electricity and communications cut. The U.S. Embassy announces its intention to investigate the matter.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews) - At least 49 dead, hundreds injured and an unspecified number of arrests: this is the toll from a wave of bloody repression unleashed by the security forces against the Vietnamese Christians (pictured: a Hmong house church) and animists, from the Hmong community, a ethnic minority that lives in the northwest of the country and in Laos.

    The episode began April 30, at Muong Nhe, Dien Bien province, where about 8,500 Hmong gathered to pray and ask for reforms and religious freedom. The event was interrupted by a violent intervention of the People's Army and security forces, who killed and wounded believers and made hundreds of arrests, deporting many of the detainees to undisclosed locations in Vietnam and Laos where, according to Christy Lee, Executive Director of Hmong Advance, Inc. (HAI) in Washington, DC, "they could have been tortured or killed, or simplify disappeared". All electricity and communications with the area have been cut.

    Among those arrested are some extraordinary Eucharistic ministers who serve the four Catholic communities of the region. In the area there are a thousand registered Catholics, who pray to God with discretion in what is called "white zone" in which the level of violation of religious freedom is the highest in the country. And there are Christians who have emigrated to keep the faith. Until now, Catholic priests have only been able to go twice to Muong Nhe, posing as tourists and were under continuous surveillance and followed by police officers who controlled their every move to prevent any attempt at evangelization.

    The Vietnamese Ministry of Information and army officers, through the official VNA, accuse the protesters of being irredentists operating at the instigation of "reactionaries who cheat the popular credulity spreading rumours about the presence of a supernatural power and calling for a separate empire of the Hmong people. " Hanoi has tried to close the area and drive the population from the mountains and jungle.

    The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi has stated that it will investigate the incident, which occurred just two days after the report of the Commission on International Religious Freedom which asked the State Department to put Vietnam on the list of countries of "particular concern for the respect of religious freedom."

    The Hmong are one of the 53 ethnic groups in Vietnam and count about 790 thousand people. During the war, they gave aid to the Americans and at the end of the conflict, many emigrated to America. Those who remain live below the poverty level, indicated by the World Bank. Like other ethnic minorities they had greater contact with Christianity and many have converted.

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    See also

    15/04/2011 VIETNAM
    Hanoi steps up persecution of Montagnard Christians
    A report by Human Rights Watch and the Montagnard Foundation confirms repression knows no limits. Hundreds of people in prison for their faith, while campaign to force "renunciation of religion" is stepped up.

    26/09/2011 VIETNAM
    Ho Chi Minh: thousands of Catholics pray for religious freedom and civil rights
    The Redemptorists of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City close to those who have been arrested for their faith or political activity. Even former Communist party leaders and managers are turning to Christian groups, asking for help and prayer. Yesterday, authorities arrested another young Catholic member of the choir of the Redemptorists.

    08/10/2013 VIETNAM
    Vinh: amid threats and attacks, 50 thousand Catholics pray for release of the two parishioners
    Tens of thousands of faithful at the Mass on October 6 , ask for the release of two faithful unjustly imprisoned. The function was held in an area marked by the devastation caused by typhoon Witif . Not far away soldiers and paramilitary militias held urban warfare exercises in riot gear.

    03/10/2009 VIETNAM
    Bishop Dac Trong, the struggle of the Vietnamese Church under Communism
    The diocese of Hanoi publishes the memoirs of the auxiliary bishop who died on September 7. "Story of an era" narrates, in diary form, the life of the Church in the country since the advent of communism to this day. The events of the '50s to today tells of the sufferings of bishops, priests and lay people and offers useful elements to understand the relevance of Christianity in Vietnam.

    05/04/2006 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.

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