Special to Compass Direct
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (Compass) -- Authorities in Vietnam are jamming Christian radio broadcasts in a desperate attempt to curb the rapid spread of Protestant Christianity among the Hmong minority in the country's northwest provinces along the China border.
Recent monitoring of the long-running Far East Broadcasting Company's White Hmong dialect radio broadcast, which airs from 18:00 to 18:30 (6-6:30 p.m.) local time, indicated that the program has been jammed since July 27. A new Blue Hmong dialect "Firm Foundations" radio broadcast, which runs daily from 20:00 to 20:30 (8-8:30 p.m.) was also jammed, sources reported. The jammer is reportedly a bubble jammer, which effectively makes clear reception very difficult.
The development comes as no surprise to Vietnam observers who recently obtained confidential Vietnamese government documents that spell out measures to be taken against the "counter-revolutionary Christian movement" among the Hmong. The documents make it illegal to listen to the radio broadcasts. They also make it incumbent on local citizens to report those who listen.
"This is believed to be the first time that Vietnam has jammed Christian broadcasts," one Vietnam observer said. Broadcasts have been coming into the country in various languages for many years, and programs in other languages in the region are not being interfered with, the observer said.
In the U.S. State Department's 1999 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, the Vietnam section said: "The house churches in ethnic minority areas have been growing rapidly in recent years, sparked in part by radio broadcasts in ethnic minority languages from the Philippines. This growth has led to tensions with local officials in some provinces. There have been crackdowns on leaders of these churches, particularly among the Hmong in the northwest."
According to recent reports, at least 16 Hmong Christian leaders are currently in prison because of their evangelistic activities.
Copyright 2000, Compass News Direct. Used with Permission.