06/21/2022, 15.15
VIETNAM
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Hmong family in Nghe An persecuted for converting to Christianity

A family of 13 has become the victim of attacks and intimidation because of their faith. Authorities have refused to issue a birth certificate for one of their children. Their story is documented in a report sent to the Evangelical Church of Vietnam. The family has had their electricity cut off and farming implements confiscated.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The right to religious freedom of a Hmong family has been violated in one of the latest cases involving members of an ethnic minority persecuted by Vietnam’s communist regime.

Local authorities in Nghe An, a province in northern Vietnam, have attacked a Protestant family of 13 people because of their faith, sources told Radio Free Asia (RFA).

Faced with the parents' refusal to abandon Christianity, local officials refused to issue a birth certificate for one of the children and threatened to expel the family.

On Wednesday last week, Xong Ba Thong, 26, a resident of Na Ngoi, a municipality in Ky Son district, sent a report to the Evangelical Church of Vietnam, complaining that his family has been subjected to persecution and violence in the village of Ka Bottom.

The family has lived in the area for generations, following the local animist tradition for a long time. In 2017 they freely and voluntarily decided to convert to Protestantism after listening to some religious radio broadcasts.

Attacks began in 2019, with calls for the family to abandon Christianity and return to traditional worship. However, the family decided to remain steadfast in their journey of faith.

Last April they officially applied for admission in the Evangelical community, triggering further pressure from local officials.

Municipal authorities took punitive measures such as the confiscation of some agricultural tools, including a plow, and seizing some timber earmarked for building a house.

Despite having more than a hectare of rice fields, the family refrained from farming it, leaving it fallow and abandoned out of fear of retaliation.

Recently, the local government also cut off electricity to their house for more than a week.

A Protestant clergyman from Lao Cai province, currently a refugee in Thailand, said that the practice of expelling Hmong Protestants from the country was commonplace.

“This kind of case happens a lot, and has happened for many years,” he said, adding that families that do not leave after receiving an expulsion order struggle to survive, denied benefits and faced with many obstacles, including no birth certificate for children, who are thus unable to have access to medical care.

This is one reason why many Vietnamese Hmong people seek asylum in Thailand.

For Vu Quoc Dung, executive director of Veto!, an NGO that monitors religious freedom in Vietnam, this is a case of blatant violation of human rights.

Hmong can be found in many countries: China (about 9 million), Laos (almost 600,000), Thailand (about 250,000) and the United States (more than 260,000).

According to official data, more than a million Hmong lived in Vietnam in 2009 where they are often victims of persecution and discrimination by the communist regime because many of them were recruited and fought for the United States during the Vietnam War.

International organisations operating in the region estimate that at least 300,00 Hmong are Christian.

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