Experts raise Vietnam’s human rights violations against Christians in letter to US President
WASHINGTON, DC (28 May 2020) – Today, a group of international experts on religious freedom sent an open letter to the US President raising concerns about the situation of religious minorities in Vietnam. The signatories to the letter describe the plight of tens of thousands of Hmong and Montagnard Christians who are pressured and persecuted for their faith. The letter comes at a critical time, as this year marks the 25th anniversary of normalized relations between Vietnam and the US.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. The systematic and ongoing persecution of the Hmong and Montagnard Christians in Vietnam is a grave violation of religious freedom. The government harasses, intimidates, imprisons, tortures, and murders Christians and other religious minorities forcing them to renounce their faith. Thousands are functionally stateless simply because of their religion. Their only other option is to flee the country, exposing them to dangerous living conditions. The US Administration must use this opportunity to act against the grave human rights violations happening in Vietnam,” said Kelsey Zorzi, Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom at ADF International and co-author of the open letter.
Persecution of Christians in Vietnam
Montagnard and Hmong Christians have been under threat in Vietnam since the 1960s. The government considers them a threat to “national security” and “national unity,” and they are denied basic citizens’ rights. They are coerced, imprisoned, and tortured in order to force them to renounce their faith and convert to government-controlled denominations. Local authorities deny them “household registration” documents, which restricts them from applying for citizenship ID cards, owning property, obtaining legal employment, opening a bank account, or receiving public services, rendering them functionally stateless in their own country. Some flee to uninhabited areas of the country where they live in dangerous and unsanitary conditions while others apply for asylum abroad.
The open letter calls for the US President to raise the issue of the persecution of Hmong and Montagnard Christians with the Vietnamese government. It calls for a cease in the policies that force these groups into statelessness or to renounce their faith, and for the government to issue birth certificates, citizenship IDs, marriage certificates, and household registrations. The letter is signed by 39 organizations and individuals.
“Vietnam is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties, which commit the country to international standards on freedom of religion and belief. Recent reviews of Vietnam’s implementation of international human rights agreements show evidence of a dramatic failure in upholding these rights for Christians and other religious minorities. We ask the US Administration to act with urgency to end the plight of persecuted Christians and give voice to their concerns during this current anniversary,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International.