Vietnam blocks human rights activists from UN committee

Germany's strategic partner violates rights of Christians and ethnic minorities:

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) accuses Germany's strategic partner Vietnam of blocking human rights activists from the United Nations (UN) in order to prevent public criticism on the Vietnamese policy towards ethnic and religious minorities. As a recent example for this strategy, the STP mentions the fact that the Vietnamese government had impeded the registration of a Khmer Krom human rights organization as a non-governmental organization at the UN earlier this week. "The ethnic minorities of the Hmong, the Montagnards (mountain people) and also the Catholic and Protestant Christians and the Buddhists are being oppressed by the authorities," reported the STP's Asia consultant, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Thursday. He also demanded: "If Vietnam is supposed to stay a strategic partner of the Federal Republic, Germany must show more initiative to put an end to these human rights violations."

Although the Committee for Non Governmental Organizations had unanimously decided to accept the human rights movement "Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation" within the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Vietnam had vetoed the NGO-status on Monday. The "Khmers Kampuchea Krom Federation," which represents more than one million indigenous Khmer in the Mekong Delta, was trying to draw the UN Human Rights Council's attention to the ongoing discrimination against the Khmer Krom and the suppression of their Buddhist religion.

In Vietnam, the indigenous peoples of the Christian Montagnards and the Hmong hill tribe are suffering from doubled discrimination – because of their religious belief and because of their ethnic origin. In the province of Dien Bien Phu in the north-west of the country, two newly built churches of the Hmong were torn down by order of the authorities in June 2012. One of the churches even belonged to the officially registered Protestant Church of Vietnam. Because the government tends to treat the about 400,000 Christian Hmong as enemies of the state, they are often pursued and attacked. The situation of the Protestant Montagnards living in the mountainous regions of Central Vietnam is not much better. They cannot practice their faith properly and there are new arrests regularly. Currently, there are about 250 Montagnards locked up in Vietnam's prisons, mostly without any court order and only because of their philosophy and their religious belief.

The catholic communities are also being intimidated, which is why Catholic priests of the diocese Vinh (located in central Vietnam) spoke up to President Nguyen Tan Dung just recently, protesting against soldiers and riot police attacking a church. On July 1st, 2012, a statue was destroyed and many believers were beaten. When around 10,000 Christians started public protests against the local authorities, tanks were used to intimidate the protesters.