VETO! Report (July 2014)
Suppression of religious freedom among ethnic minorities
The 25-year persecution of the Hmong’s Duong Van Minh Religion
The Duong Van Minh belief is a variant of Christian religion for Hmong ethnics. It has up to 10.000 believers living in the four Northeastern provinces of Vietnam: Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Tuyen Quang and Thai Nguyen. It is not recognized by the Vietnamese government and therefore its activities are seen as illegal. The most known characteristic of this belief is the simplified funeral ceremony. Instead of expensive parties and having noisy drums and trumpets during the funeral the believers use symbolic items made of wood such as a swallow, a toad and a cicada to replace traditional music instruments. The items are stored in a small shed of wood or bricks of 7 square meters to share with other villagers. In May 2013 the believers have built in total 24 sheds for storing funeral objects (SSFO) which were later completely destroyed by government forces. Eight Hmong ethnics involving in the building of the SSFO were arrested and sentenced up to 2 years in prison; other two were arrested for having not served their prison sentences given 5 years before.
Taking advantage of the vulnerability of ethnic minority the ongoing persecution of the Duong Van Minh believers is both subtle and comprehensive: forcing to sign renouncements of belief, propaganda to slander the believers and the religious founder, discrimination in public service based on faith such as deny of health insurance and care, dismissing employment, harassment through police summons and interrogations, house searches and confiscation of properties. Fearing retaliation a dozen of Hmong believers went underground, some of them since 14 years without a perspective to be reunified with their families.
The violation of the right of the Duong Van Minh adherents to freedom of religion or belief is grave and systematic. As a member of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council beginning in January 2014, Vietnam should abide by the council’s pledge to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. As a signatory Vietnam should respect and fully enable the human rights mentioned in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), especially Art. 18.
Therefore VETO! urges the Vietnamese government to:
Withdraw all directives aiming to suppress the Duong Van Minh religion and authorize this religious group to operate freely;
Respect the right to have and adopt religious belief as an inalienable, internationally recognized human right; forbid all measures used to force believers to renounce their faith or religion;
Cancel all harassment measures against the Duong Van Minh believers;
Immediately and unconditionally release ten imprisoned Duong Van Minh followers;
Forbid the destruction of the sheds for storing funeral objects of Hmong people;
Withdraw the arrest warrants or search warrants against the Duong Van Minh believers and guarantee the safe return of the related persons to their families.
VETO! Report (July 2014)
Suppression of religious freedom among ethnic minorities The 25-year persecution of the Hmong’s Duong Van Minh Religion