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Protestant family of 13 in Vietnam expelled from village for religious reasons, says report

At least one child was reportedly denied a birth certificate because the parents refused to renounce Protestantism

A family of 13 in Vietnam’s Nghe An province is reportedly being persecuted by local authorities for religious reasons, said a report on Radio Free Asia.

At least one child was reportedly denied a birth certificate because the parents refused to renounce Protestantism.

The report said that on June 15, Xong Ba Thong, from Na Ngoi commune in Ky Son district, sent a report to the Evangelical Church of Vietnam, claiming that his family faced persecution in Ka Bottom village.

According to RFA research, the family of 26-year-old Xong Ba Thong has lived in the area for generations. The ethnic Hmong family had traditionally followed the local custom of ghost-worshiping.

Thong said that in 2017, his entire family including his parents, younger siblings and himself voluntarily converted to Protestantism after learning about the religion through radio broadcasts.

In 2019, local authorities began demanding that the family renounce Protestantism and forced them to return to the local custom, said the report.

“They said that here in Ky Son district, Na Ngoi commune and the whole of Nghe An province, no one followed a religion, but they said it was against the law to follow another religion. They also said that [by following Protestantism] we have greatly affected national unity,” Thong said.

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The family wanted to be officially converted to Protestantism and applied to join the Vietnam Evangelical Church (Northern) General Assembly. The application was approved in April this year.

Instead of acknowledging the church’s approval and allowing Mr. Thong’s family to convert, local authorities increased pressure on them to try to force them to give up their religious beliefs.

The report said local officials repeatedly visited their house to try to persuade family members to renounce Protestantism. They also repeatedly summoned Thong to the commune headquarters for “work,” including spending time with the cadres of Ky Son district on May 17.

Thong said the “work” revolved around the request for his family to renounce Protestantism.

The campaign against the family culminated on June 4, when the government held a vote to expel Xong Ba Thong’s family from the locality. According to Thong, no one dared to vote against the decision.

As a result of the vote the government no longer considers the family to be local citizens, does not allow them to use public services and even refuses to issue citizenship and birth certificates to some family members.

RFA made repeated calls to the party secretary and chairman of Na Ngoi commune to verify the information, but no one picked up the phone.

RFA then contacted Tho Ba Re, Vice Chairman of Ky Son district, who had previously directly campaigned for Mr. Thong’s family to renounce their religion. After RFA mentioned the family’s situation he refused to comment saying he was not authorized by the district president.

An RFA reporter also sent an email to the General Assembly of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North) to verify the information, but did not immediately receive a reply. – information taken from a report on Radio Free Asia

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