Angered by the active participation of Hmong Catholics in Hanoi protests, both at the former nunciature and at Thai Ha, state-run media direct their attacks at Hmong Catholics describing them as superstitious, naive, docile, and childlike people. Fr. John Nguyen Ngoc Nam Phong has warned that the ongoing campaign of mockeries against Catholics on state media could divide the country deeply.

Hmong women with their gongs at Thai Ha
Hmong women at Hanoi nunciature
Sixteen Hmong Catholic women in Hoa Binh province have been mocked on state run media since Monday just because they travelled 38 miles from Van Nghia, Hoa Binh to join Thai Ha protestors. The 16 women brought with them large brass gongs, musical instruments that Hmong use in various occasions, but in particular, when they want to draw attentions of the listeners to their laments of sufferings.

The People’s Police newspaper on Monday stated that the 16 women were seduced by Nguyen Thi Nhi, 46, of Son Ha, Phu Xuyen to participate in "illegal and anti-revolutionary activities". Nhi had been a regular protestor at Thai Ha before being arrested and taken to jail on Sep. 1 morning when she was praying there. Since then, no one knows about her fate and where she is jailed. The paper also accused her of organizing illegally "a parish council of Van Nghia" and other Hmong Catholic sodalities.

Like other state media, the paper did not forget to cry out for “severe punishments” against these Hmong women and "thorough investigations on who are actually behind public order disturbances at Thai Ha."

Hmong Catholics have played active roles in protests in Hanoi. Earlier this year, hundreds of them attended protests at the nunciature. During the demonstration on Jan. 25, a Hmong woman climbed over a gate to place flowers on a statue of the Virgin Mary inside the building. Discovered by security personnel, the woman was chased around the garden of the building. Disregarding the woman's explanations for her venturing into the building, the guards kicked and slapped her severely. In the witness of more than 2,000 Catholics, a security commander even loudly ordered his subordinates to beat to death the woman.

Last Saturday, Archbishop Joseph Ngo visited each family of Nhi and other detainees. He consoled their relatives and assured them of his daily prayers.

Facing with the ongoing assault of state media against Catholics, Fr. John Nguyen Ngoc Nam Phong of Hanoi Redemptorist Monastery warned state officials during a meeting at Dong Da district that the government was making the country weaker and unstable by trying to split it into two opposing blocks: the Catholics and the non-Catholics. “False accusations and defamations against Catholics make the division in the country deeper, and, ultimately, jeopardize the national security,” he said.

“To improve national security, the state must direct its efforts on building the unity of the entire nation.” In order to do that, “above all, the government must respect its own laws and solve all problems on the basis of constitutional laws and regulations rather than using its media power to deceit and manipulate public opinion,” he suggested.

So far, the government does not show any gesture of willingness to dialogue with the Church to solve the dispute peacefully. Rather, there have been rumours that police are going to arrest Redemptorists and any priests who participate in prayer protests at Thai Ha. “Such arrests only make things worse, build up more tensions, and throw the problem into an unsolvable situation,” he warned the officials.