At least nine more Vietnamese-Hmong Catholic believers, who were part of a mass demonstration for religious freedom, land reform and an end to illegal logging by Vietnam People’s Army owned military companies, were confirmed killed by army soldiers, and police. (Photo Courtesty: Center For Public Policy Analysis,License CC.2.0)Online PR News – 17-May-2011 –Hanoi, Vietnam, Bangkok, Thailand, and Washington, D.C., May 17, 2011
The Vietnamese People’s Army has killed at least 72 Hmong Christian and animist religious believers, many of them mainstream Catholic and orthodox Protestant Christians, according to the Center for Public Policy Analysis and Hmong and Laotian non-governmental organizations with sources inside the region that borders on Laos. The beatification of Pope John Paul II, in Rome on May 1st was a factor in sparking the mass gatherings and peaceful, non-violent demonstrations by thousands of Viet-Hmong Catholics, Protestant and Animist believers according to Philip Smith of the CPPA and other sources inside the northern province of Vietnam.
At least nine more Vietnamese-Hmong Catholic believers, who were part of a mass demonstration for religious freedom, land reform and an end to illegal logging by Vietnam People’s Army owned military companies, were confirmed killed by army soldiers, and police, as of Tuesday, May 17, for taking part in the peaceful rallies that occurred earlier in the month. Many Hmong Catholics had helped form the core of demonstrations in Dien Bien to mark ceremonies in honor of Pope John Paul II in Rome on May 1st.
Vietnam security forces, including over 15,000 soldiers from various Vietnam People’s Army units, backed by allied armed forces from Laos, have sealed off much of Dien Bien province in Vietnam and arrested over 2,400 ethnic Hmong citizens from Vietnam.http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1105/S00366/nine-hmong-catholics-killed-during-mass-arrests-in-vietnam.htm
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) government in Hanoi has called in army troops to attack Viet-Hmong protestors in Northern Vietnam. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1105/S00181/vietnam-14-die-as-troops-converge-on-hmong.htm
SRV officials in Hanoi have announced that the Vietnam People's Army and security forces has sealed off the area of the demonstrations to independent journalists and news media, baring journalists from covering the events involving thousands of protesters, and has deployed army troops to end the public rallies and appeals. Thousands of Vietnam People's Army troops have been deployed to the area in recent days, including regimental size units comprising divisional strength.
Thousands of Viet-Hmong have also been wounded or are missing at the hands of Vietnam security forces and the army.
MI-8 attack helicopters, and heliborne troops, have also been deployed by the Army against the Hmong. Lao People's Army forces have also been mobilized on the Laos and Vietnam border area of the province to help seal off the area to foreign journalists and others. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1105/S00181/vietnam-14-die-as-troops-converge-on-hmong.htm
“The Hmong Catholic and Protestant Christian believers in Vietnam’s Dien Bein province continue to be wrongly targeted and defamed by the Vietnam People’s Army soldiers and secret police who are arresting, beating and persecuting them by the hundreds,” said Christy Lee of Hmong Advance, Inc. http://www.onlineprnews.com/news/136891-1304943947-vietnam-army-kills-14-more-hmong-prostesters-hundreds-more-missing.html
“Many, ordinary Vietnamese Catholic, Christian and Animist believers, and Vietnamese citizens, engaged in peaceful mass protests against the government for reform are being arrested, tied up and blindfolded, by the hundreds and forcibly loaded onto military trucks where they being taken away and out of the sealed off province,” Ms. Lee said.
“We fear that many Viet-Hmong will be summarily executed after interrogation like the nine Catholic believers who were killed last week by the soldiers and police because of their faith and peaceful appeals for an end to religious persecution and injustice,” Lee stated.
“Now, over 2400 innocent Hmong have been arrested on baseless and false charges as many people had gathered initially in Dien Bien to honor Pope John Paul II, and his message of hope to the suffering people and Christians worldwide who are being persecuted,” Ms. Lee stated further.
“Multiple sources in Vietnam have confirmed that nine more Vietnamese-Hmong Catholic believers, who were part of a demonstration for religious freedom, land reform and an end to illegal logging by Vietnam People’s Army owned military companies, have been killed by security forces,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C. http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org
“Many of our Hmong and Vietnamese sources in Dien Bien province and in the bordering areas of Laos have reported that the beatification of Pope John Paul II, in Rome on May 1st played a significant factor in sparking the mass gatherings and peaceful, non-violent demonstrations by thousands of Viet-Hmong Catholics, Protestant and Animist believers,” said Mr. Smith.
“The Hmong people of the Catholic diocese in Dien Bien were brutally beaten and killed by army soldiers, and police for allegedly taking part in the peaceful rallies that occurred earlier in the month calling for an end to religious persecution, the lifting of oppressive government restrictions on Christian and Animist believers and the celebration of the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Rome on May 1st, of this year and the former Pope’s important message to fearlessly confront government injustice and Stalinist authoritarianism,” Smith commented.
“The Polish Pope, who had opposed Nazi forces during World II, and the spread of Communist totalitarianism and its attacks on the Catholic and Protestant Church , has been a source of inspiration to many Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian and Hmong Christian believers by the courageous moral conduct of his life and his profound words to ‘be not afraid’ in challenging social injustice and Stalinist regimes around the world,” Smith stated.
“Now, in Vietnam’s Dien Bien Province, the Vietnamese People’s Army has killed at least 72 Christian believers, many of them mainstream Catholic and orthodox Protestant Christians believers,” said Smith.
“Senior generals and defense ministry officials in Hanoi responsible for these terrible bloody acts against peaceful demonstrators in Dien Bien province have sealed the area off to independent journalists and the news media so the truth and facts cannot be easily learned,” Smith observed.
Smith continued: “Communist officials in Hanoi, and senior Vietnamese army generals have enlisted the support of Lao People’s Army troops, lead by Vietnamese military advisors, to help seal the border area off and persecute and arrest Hmong and Vietnamese citizens and church members suspected of being involved with the mass protests.”
“Vietnam and Lao People’s Army troops have also mobilized along the Laos and Vietnamese border to cut-off and attack the freedom-loving Lao and Hmong people around Dien Bien province, including many ordinary Christians and Catholics, who are only seeking human rights, religious freedom and an end to the exploitation by certain corrupt communist generals in Hanoi who have engaged in illegal logging and the destruction of churches, temples and religious shrines as well as the sacred mountain forests of the Hmong indigenous people,” Smith concluded.
“We want the Vietnam People’s Army troops out of Laos and to stop killing the Laotian and Hmong people, including many Christian, Catholic , Animist and independent Buddhist believers,” said Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. (ULDL). “Persecuted Vietnamese citizens, including many Hmong Catholic and Protestant believers from Dien Bien, are trying to flee from Vietnam to Laos but are being arrested and killed in Laos as well by the Lao and Vietnamese army units and police in recent days.”
“The horrific illegal logging, religious persecution and environmental destruction by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Lao People’s Army, in cooperation with the Vietnam People’s Army, in Laos, and on the Laos -Vietnam border areas of Dien Bien province, must be stopped by the international community before more people are driven off their homeland and are killed by corrupt communist officials,” Rathigna concluded in a statement by the ULDL yesterday.
Human Rights Watch issued a statement today raising concerns about the plight of the Hmong in Dien Bien and urging authorities in Vietnam to provide unfetterd acccess to the area.