Vietnamese government officials assaulted and arrested several Hmong Christians after they refused to renounce their faith in Christ according to the persecution watchdog group, International Christian Concern (ICC).
Pastor Hoang Van Pa told ICC that 33 Hmong Christians in Phá Lóm village, Tam Hợp commune, Nghệ An province were told by government officials to renounce Jesus or face consequences. The officers reportedly brought an image of Buddha and demanded the Christians worship him.
Four believers were arrested and beaten while others were harassed and raided throughout the months of November and December.
Christians are often times viewed as threats to Vietnam’s oppressive communist system of government. Vietnam passed a law earlier last year giving Vietnam’s government more powers to control religious practices in the country.
“Due to its ethnic background and high percentage of practicing Christians, Vietnam’s Hmong community is often targeted and harassed by both the government and neighboring communities. In a communist country where Christianity is often seen as unpatriotic or a threat to the regime, Hmong Christians constantly face discrimination, harassment, land grabs, torture, and imprisonment,” wrote ICC’s Regional Manager Gina Goh.
Christians make up approximately 300,000 of the one million Hmong people in Vietnam.
According to Open Doors, Christians in remote areas “experience the most intense persecution” because churches are growing rapidly there.
“These believers face exclusion, harassment, discrimination, loss of property and even violent attack for their faith,” said Open Doors, which ranks Vietnam among the top 50 countries where Christian persecution is most severe.
Last year, 24 Christians were attacked by a mob for their faith in the north-western highlands of the country.
When village leaders discovered these two dozen Hmong had become Christians, they were attacked by a mob and told to leave.
Four Christians were taken to the hospital.
“Such attacks and acts of harassment against religious communities have multiplied recently in Vietnam,” the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights noted in a statement. “The authorities are invoking the law to criminalize legitimate religious activities, creating a climate of impunity for a wide range of violations of freedom of religion or belief.”