The persecution of the Hmong Christians starts with confiscating Bibles and quickly escalates from there. The fortunate Hmong are ?only? fined the equivalent of four months? salary and have their livestock confiscated. Beatings, imprisonment, and torture are commonplace. For some, the torture includes drug injections. A witness said that ?those that were injected said that they experienced symptoms of chest pains, headaches, and a loss of feeling in their limbs.?
Even worse, there are reports of worshippers being attacked with chemical weapons. The chemical agent is said to cause ?seizures and uncontrollable shaking.? More than one hundred worshippers at two separate services required medical attention after the attacks. Given the history of the Hmong, and now adding their Christianity, it?s not hard to believe these accounts.
Two weeks ago, the U.S. government announced an agreement that it had finally concluded with Vietnam on religious liberty. The announcement was accompanied by the release of six Hmong Christians from prison. Good.
In the agreement, the Vietnamese government promised an end to the ?forced renunciation of Christian faith.? Despite this commitment, Human Rights Watch reports that such forced renunciations are still occurring among the Hmong and other ethnic minorities. That highlights the real issue: Will Vietnam?s ?commitments? amount to more than words?
That?s where we come in. Christians need to keep the pressure on our government to keep the pressure on Vietnam. This time, we should we keep our word to the Hmong.
Compass Direct, ?U.S. and Vietnam Reach Agreement on Religious Freedom,? Christianity Today, 12 May 2005.
CNSNews.com, ?Vietnam Dodges Sanctions for Religious Freedom Violations,? Townhall.com, 6 May 2005.
?Vietnam: Catholic prisoner of conscience released after 18 years? imprisonment,? press release, Amnesty International UK, 11 May 2005.
See Human Rights Watch?s coverage of Vietnam.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 040917, ?Thinking about Vietnam: Hanoi and the Church.?
?Rice required to act on Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Eritrea by March 15,? press release, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, 7 February 2005.
?Vietnam Intensifies Religious Persecution Against Hmong Christians,? press release, Center for Religious Freedom, 1 October 2003.
Joanna S. Wong, ?Torture by Injection of Vietnamese Hmong Christians,? Christian Today, 19 March 2004.
?Hmong Christians Suffer Chemical Attacks in Vietnam,? press release, Voice of the Martyrs.
See BreakPoint?s page on ?Helping the Persecuted Church.?