- Government waives identity card requirement for three Hmong Christian teenagers seeking high school admission
- Persecution of Hmong Christians in Vietnam systemic and ongoing
VIETNAM/WASHINGTON DC (16 December 2020) – Three Christian teenagers in Vietnam have been granted permission to attend high school after the government waived the requirement for identity documents. They are members of the Hmong community – a Christian ethnic minority – who are denied basic identity documents because of their religion. Without proper documents, most Hmong children are unable to enrol in school, obtain access to medical care, or enjoy many of the basic rights and services afforded to other citizens. With the help of Boat People SOS and ADF International, Giàng, Lý, and Sùng were able to get approval from the authorities to enrol in high schools in Lam Dong Province despite remaining functionally stateless.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. Amidst the ongoing systematic persecution of Hmong and Montagnard Christians in Vietnam, this recent development is an extraordinary victory. That these three young members of the Hmong community will be able to attend high school is a significant step in the right direction and could provide a blueprint for many others. It is the result of continued advocacy efforts, and these efforts must continue until Hmong and Montagnard Christians are officially recognized as citizens. The government of Vietnam has rendered thousands of Christians in Vietnam functionally stateless simply because of their religion. For many, the only means of escape from persecution is to flee to uninhabited areas, exposing them to dangerous living conditions. This form of persecution is a grave violation of religious freedom and we urge the Vietnamese government and the international community to counter it,” said Kelsey Zorzi, Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom at ADF International.
Advocating for the rights 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 at times even tortured in order to force them to renounce their faith and convert to government-controlled denominations. Local authorities deny them “household registration” documents, restricting 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.
“It is encouraging to see an improvement in the situation of the Hmong Christian minority in Vietnam. Nevertheless, the country continues to fail to uphold the rights of religious minorities and international standards on freedom of religion or belief. As a party to a number of human rights treaties, Vietnam should do more to protect the rights of the most vulnerable groups in the country,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International.