Freedom House Releases Photo Evidence of Vietnamese Christian Torture

A religious freedom, human rights organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., released photographs last week supporting evidence of torture of Christian minorities in Vietnam by the government.

Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom, the nation’s oldest human rights group in America, made public on Nov. 10 the photographs of two Christian Hmong men, Vang Seo Dung and Ly Van Dung, who had been severely beaten with electric batons by border police and local defense forces in an attempt to force them to renounce their faith. The photos are consistent with a previous report released by the Center on Nov. 3 indicating that several Hmong Christians were imprisoned and tortured with electric batons.

“Instead of taking the report seriously, Hanoi is staging a cover-up,” said Nina Shea, Director of Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom. “It is essential that it conduct a transparent and fair investigation into credible charges of torture.”

In response to the Nov. 3 report, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Dung, reportedly denied the allegations, saying, "There is no such thing that the Hmongs in Chi Ca commune, Xi Man district, Ha Giang province were beaten by the border patrol soldiers and local paramilitary because they are Christians," according to the state-controlled Vietnam News Agency on Nov. 4.

In early October, two Hmong men from the Chi Ca Commune provided testimonies to the legally-recognized Evangelical Church of Vietnam-North (ECVN-N) in Hanoi about attacks on Protestants in late August and early September by police, reported the Center. The testimonies said that seven local Christians were severely beaten and provided names of six officials who had authorized the beatings. The two men, Vang and Ly, were the most severely injured in the attack, with Vang suffering from a broken rib and Ly a fractured sternum among other injuries as a result of the beating.

“This incident is part of a larger pattern of persecution against Hmong Christians—for worshipping as Christians—and against other disapproved religious groups in Vietnam,” said Shea.

Freedom House’s Religious Freedom center reported on Oct. 28 that local Vietnamese communist party officials have been secretly implementing policies to force Hmong Christians to deny their faith, based on a secret document issued earlier this year from a local party office in Dien Bien Province.

“These new reports directly contradict the government of Vietnam’s assertion that it has stopped religious repression,” said Shea.

The Center for Religious Freedom is a department of Freedom House – the oldest human rights group in America, which formed in 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie to oppose Nazism and Communism in Europe. The organization presents the case of persecuted groups to the media, Congress, State Department, and White House, urging these groups to respond and defend the persecuted groups. Among the groups the Center is advocating in Washington are China, Sudan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.