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Hmong Catholics 'safe', says priest

Thousands of Hmong Christians from villages reportedly gathered in forests

Hmong Catholics 'safe', says priest
Ethnic Hmong Catholics attending Easter Mass on April 27 in Muong Nhe district reporter, Sa Pa

May 19, 2011

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A priest who provides pastoral activities for people in Dien Bien Phu province said local Hmong Catholic communities remain safe following mass protests held by thousands of Hmong Christians in early May.

“We are very happy that over 1,000 ethnic Hmong Catholics in Muong Nhe district are safe after the recent mass protests,” said Father Peter Pham Thanh Binh, who has been in charge of pastoral activities for Catholics in north-western provinces of Dien Bien and Lai Chau since 2006.

Local media reported that thousands of Hmong Christians from villages reportedly gathered in forests the district of Dien Bien province, which borders China and Laos, to pray and ask for “a country of ethnic Hmong” from April 30 to May 6.

Vietnam People’s Army forces reportedly prevented people from entering or leaving, cut telecommunications and forced protesters to go home.

Father Binh, 40, who heads Sa Pa parish in Lao Cai province, said “Thank God, who receives our prayers.” As soon as the protests broke out, the priest asked local Catholics to pray for Hmong people to remain peaceful so they could return to normal life soon.

He said that normal activities have returned to the district. Local buses started to run on main roads to the area but there are some security checkpoints on roads.

Father Binh said that in recent years many Hmong people from other places have moved to this area where Protestant cults spread rapidly.

Local resources report there are 38,000 ethnic Hmong including 22,000 Christians, 1,000 of them Catholics, among Muong Nhe district’s total population of 50,000.

Father Binh has visited local Hmong Catholics twice. His latest visit to them was on April 27 when he celebrated Easter Mass for them and married 12 couples who had not celebrated wedding rites in church.

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