06/20/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – The Hmong community is a marginalized ethnic group in Vietnam. Many Hmong are Christians who experience blatant persecution at the hands of their peers and the government because of their faith. International Christian Concern (ICC) was able to come alongside a community that, due to limited access to technology, has not been able to take measures to prevent or draw attention to the persecution they have been facing.
The Doan Ket Protestant Community live in Doan Ket Village, within the Dak Nong Province. The village is made up of approximately 1,300 people, who mostly work in the unstable coffee industy. This community’s hardships began around 2001 to 2006, when the provincial governments throughout northern Vietnam introduced policies designed to limit religious practices, especially among Hmong Protestant believers. The government banned religious activities, and arrested community members who participated in them. This resulted in communities gradually dissolving. The only viable options were to stay and renounce their faith, or leave and continue to act on their convictions.
When facing this decision, many Hmong Protestant communities migrated from their original provinces to the Central Highlands in search of a haven for religious freedom. Nearly 1,000 migrants settled in the Dac Ngo Commune. New residents faced the challenges of settling somewhere where they did not have land, jobs, houses, or schools for their children. Many lived out of makeshift tents and worked as seasonal laborers for locals who owned croplands. Conditions continued to worsen for this community as there was no clean water, healthcare, environmental protection, or other provisions for healthy living. Disease became an unavoidable reality of living in these communities.
Their semi-nomadic existence lasted for nearly 10 years, and the community grew gradually and developed a level of organizational stability. Residents resumed religious activities, though they continued to face vigorous harassment, persecution, and the banning of their religious beliefs by the local government. Doan Ket residents have persisted in their faith through all of this.
After years of struggle, the government of the Dak Nong Province allocated land for each family. The lives of many believers in the region have gradually become easier. However, families that moved later than the original group are still without land and struggle to provide for themselves, even while working long hours for other farmers.
Doan Ket residents still deal with government interference in their religious worship. The feeling remains that more intense persecution could resume at any moment. While their physical circumstances have improved, they do not have the knowledge of legal processes or religious freedom to fight for themselves within the system that they live. Their access to communication technology, educational opportunities, and healthcare are very limited.
ICC has been able to come alongside this community to give them the necessary resources to improve their circumstances. The objective has been to equip them to fight against the abuses and persecution they have been facing.
Through the support of generous donors, we provided the community with three computers and three smartphones. A core group of 15 residents will be trained in how to use computers and smartphones and many more were trained to create accounts, use social media, and use communication technology. Seven people also received religious freedom training, two of whom were given advanced training so that they can lead courses and teach the rest of the community about religious liberties. Trainings were also completed in developing community events, leading meetings, and writing minutes. These skills will help them fight against oppression and communicate to those outside of the region what has been going on.
Eventually, this program will reach two more neighboring communities to also teach them about religious freedom, Vietnamese law, and how to use communication technology to share information about their hardships and obtain help.
For interviews with Gina Goh, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org