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Vietnam Officials Secretly Adopt Government Strategy to 'Fight Religion'

Christian faith is now under threat as officials in tribal areas of Vietnam have allegedly adopted strategies to "fight religion," according to a document found by a human rights group.
( [email protected] ) Nov 05, 2005 12:02 AM EST

Christian faith is now under threat as officials in tribal areas of Vietnam have allegedly adopted strategies to "fight religion," according to a document found by a human rights group.

Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom released a statement on Oct. 28th indicating that local Vietnamese communist party officials have been secretly implementing policies to force Hmong Christians to deny their faith and "eradicating" Christian meeting places according to a secret document issued earlier this year from the Muong Nhe District Party Office, in Dien Bien Province.

The document, dated Feb. 25th, 2005, describes a comprehensive campaign by the government, police and military officials to fight religions by closing down places of worship and forcing people to renounce their faith.

The campaign was scheduled to be implemented from March 2 through June 30th, 2005. Religious freedom officials have not been able to gather information concerning if the strategy was executed due to the remoteness of the rural districts the plan was to apply.

The document urged "mobilizing the masses to fight and resist religion and religious belief, and eradicate places complicating public security."

In addition, the document called for troops to "get the people to give up their religion and return to their traditional beliefs and customs ... and inspect the areas not yet infiltrated with the Vang Chu (the Hmong term for God) religion so it does not "infect other places," reported Freedom House Center for Religious Freedom.

The Center, in previous reports, has noted that dozens of Hmong Christians are forced into "re-education" programs where they are commanded to give up their faith and they are "harassed, beaten, forced to drink wine until intoxicated, and to sign pledges renouncing their faith."

"This document indicates that the situation in Vietnam can be summed up as repression as usual," said Centre Director Nina Shea.

The Vietnamese government gives no consideration to the fact that Hmong Christians are considered a part of the legally-recognised Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North) and the church had bestowed certificates of acceptances to 981, mostly Hmong, ethnic minority congregations as of Sept. 30th, 2005, the Centre for Religious Freedom notes in its report.

The document indicates that despite Vietnam's claim that it allows religious freedom, it continues to repress religion, the Center added.

"While the State Department placed Vietnam on its 2004 list of 'Countries of Particular Concern' under the International Religious Freedom Act, it has not recommended any sanctions against it," said Shea in the statement. "Instead, it has tried positive inducements for Vietnam to change its repressive ways. It is now time to implement the Act's sanction provisions."

The Center for Religious Freedom is a department of Freedom House - the oldest human rights group in America, which formed in 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie to oppose Nazism and Communism in Europe.

The organization presents the case of persecuted groups to the media, Congress, State Department, and the White House, urging these groups to respond and defend the persecuted groups. Among the groups the Center is advocating are China, Sudan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.