Hmong Christians suffer chemical attacks in Vietnam

Thursday, January 23, 2003

January 23, 2003

Washington, DC (VOM) -- The Voice of the Martyrs has learned that Vietnamese police, anxious to stop the spread of Christianity in their nation, have resorted to spraying worshippers with an unidentified chemical agent. Underground church services were raided and believers sprayed in two separate attacks last month. Victims of the attacks report that the chemical gas causes seizures and uncontrollable shaking.

The Voice of the Martyrs also has received a picture of a "re-education" session at one of the villages prior to the church being raided by police.

"This is a new wrinkle in Vietnam's attacks on Hmong Christians," said VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton. "We have long received reports of arrests, beatings and even Christians having boiling water poured down their throats, but these chemical attacks show that the Vietnamese authorities have sunk to a new low."

The first chemical attack took place during a Hmong worship service in Keekher village, close to Mong Lai in Lai Chau province the morning of December 28th. Twenty-four people in the service were immediately affected. However, when they tried to go to a hospital and get medical attention, police sent them back to their village without allowing them to see doctors. An additional 72 worshippers suffered symptoms after police had left the service.

The second attack happened the following day at a Hmong worship service in the Dien Bien Dong district, in northern Vietnam. ANS reported that 20 of the 40 Christians gathered for worship were hospitalized after the attack.

The Voice of the Martyrs urges American Christians to contact the Vietnam embassy and urge a halt to these attacks.

Write a polite letter of protest to:
Nguyen Tam Chien
Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-861-0737
Fax: 202-861-0917

"The world is hearing a lot about chemical weapons right now with Iraq in the news," said Nettleton. "But here is a country using chemical agents against its own people. I hope this vile act will generate the same outcry as it would if it had occurred in Iraq."