06/24/2022 Vietnam (International Christian Concern) – Officials in Nghe An province, Vietnam, stripped ethnic Hmong Christian Xong Ba Thong and his family of citizenship rights on June 4.
This declaration comes after years of officials trying to coerce Mr. Thong and his family to stop practicing their Christian faith.
The Hmong family converted to Christianity five years ago after listening to radio broadcasts. Since 2019, officials have demanded the renunciation of their faith. Despite Mr. Thong and his family’s official acceptance into the state-registered Vietnam Evangelical Church (Northern) General Assembly in April, officials continued to pester them.
In an attempt to persuade Mr. Thong to leave Christianity, local officials claimed that it was illegal to practice another religion. Similar assertions have surfaced in nearby villages. One statement reads, “families are to abide by the law and…not to follow other religions but only the long-standing beliefs and customs of the Hmong people.”
In response, Mr. Thong has gone before district officials to read the Vietnamese law on belief and religion, which states that all citizens may practice their faith freely. Officials deny that this law holds true for the village and province in which Mr. Thong lives.
Mr. Thong and his family’s resiliency has led officials to confiscate their plow donated by the state for farming purposes and cut off their electricity for more than a week.
According to the news service Radio Free Asia (RFA), the local government held a vote to expel Xong Ba Thong’s family from the locality on June 4. Mr. Thong says no one dared to vote against the decision.
A Hmong Protestant pastor who is taking refuge in Thailand says this kind of expulsion is common. According to him, victims who seek the state’s support rarely receive justice because the central government does not handle these cases properly.
Since the expulsion, the Thong family has reported that a child in the family has lost their birth certificate, thereby making it impossible for them to go to hospitals or attend school in the future.
Vu Quoc Dung, Executive Director of VETO!, an organization that monitors religious freedom in Vietnam, believes Mr. Thong’s case was a clear violation of human rights.
Please pray for Mr. Thong and his family as they face severe punishment for their beliefs.
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