Date: July 12, 2020
In a report released by RealClear Religion, it is revealed that Vietnam's coordinated and successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic has gained media attention and respect from nations around the world, despite the fact that the nation's efforts blatantly discriminate against religious minorities.
Taking a look at news reports from outlets around the world, much of the articles and headlines related to Vietnam applaud the nation's success in preventing a massive outbreak: "with just over three-hundred cases and no deaths reported" despite its close geographic proximity to China, the epicenter of the pandemic. What the majority of the public doesn't realize, however, is that this major 'success' is attributed to the nation's discriminatory censorship and surveillance practices, which many nations would consider massive violations of personal agency and privacy.
Moreover, the state-sanctioned improvements of the nation's health system and financial relief package which are designed to provide affordable accessible health care and monetary assistance to vulnerable citizens, employees, and business- though having received positive media attention for their swift implementation- disproportionately discriminate against religious minorities. Such discrimination is fundamentally connected to the long-existing legal oppression of religious minority communities such as Hmong and Montagnard Christians, Hoa Hao Buddhists and the Unified Buddhists, Catholics, and many more.
In retribution for ethnic minorities' participation in religions that are not state-approved, Hmong and Montagnard Christians are denied citizenship documentation and household registration documentation, which are the fundamental prerequisites to receive benefits such as health care, employment, financial aid, and education. According to RealClear Religion:
"Without proper documents, oppressed religious minorities cannot gain access to the public health system or most social benefits. And because the government forces these minority groups to live in shanty-town villages that lack proper water and sanitation infrastructure, social distancing practices have become practically meaningless."
Moreover, members of such communities that have asked about their state of eligibility for receiving benefits from the financial relief package have in fact been silenced and penalized for their inquiry: in Dak Lak Province, Montagnard Christians reported being heavily fined by local government authorities directly following their request for monetary assistance. In effect, not only are Hmong and Montagnard restricted from accessing state-provided health insurance during a time of pandemic, but the funds that they could potentially use to pay for treatment amidst their denial of insurance have been unjustly confiscated, leaving them stateless and increasingly vulnerable to the rapidly spreading virus. Please pray for God's divine healing and provision, for the Hmong and Montagnard Christians and others who are denied healthcare by their own government.