Public Denunciation Ceremonies and Forced Renunciation of Faith
Vietnamese government authorities persist in forcing Montagnard villagers to publicly recant their religion, despite strict prohibitions on forced renunciations of faith set out in Decree 22. Throughout 2010 and early 2011, hundreds of Montagnards in the Central Highlands were pressured or coerced to abandon Dega Protestantism in public criticism ceremonies by signing pledges or through intimidation in private meetings with police or local authorities.
The state media regularly carries accounts of public renunciation ceremonies. In one such public ceremony on September 24, 2010, in Ia Suom district, Gia Lai, 24 people “voluntarily” committed to abandon Dega Protestantism and FULRO and integrate with the community, according to an article in the People’s Army newspaper. Local officials coordinated closely with the provincial military headquarters, village chiefs, elders, and the “wayward” peoples’ families to turn them around, the article stated.
Montagnard Catholics in the provinces of Kon Tum, Gia Lai, and Dak Lak also face harassment, forced renunciation of faith, and arrest, especially those allegedly associated with the “Ha Mon” Catholic sect. During the second half of 2010, officials in the Central Highlands became increasingly critical of the sect, whose popularity they allege is being exploited by FULRO exiles. State media reported in November that the “elusive” sect has penetrated not only into several districts in Gia Lai but to Dak Lak province further south.
In November 2010, Kon Tum Bishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh diocese released a public pastoral letter to his diocese to raise his concerns about local authorities preventing him from conducting mass services and harassing and threatening members of his parish. Despite this, police prevented him from celebrating Christmas mass with members of his diocese in Kbang district, Gia Lai.
Examples of civilians being pressured, coerced, or forced to publicly renounce their religion, or being harassed and denounced for alleged political activities at public denunciation ceremonies during 2010 include the following incidents, which were covered in the state media:
- On June 6, 2010 , as part of an a official public ceremony in Dak Mil district, Dak Nong province to launch a “mass movement to protect national security,” two men were brought forward to publicly confess to supporting Dega Protestantism and FULRO.
- Starting in June 2010, officials in the Central Highlands organized a propaganda campaign against a Catholic sect known as “Ha Mon” (named after the commune where the group’s founder was born). Since its founding in Kon Tum in 1999, the sect has reportedly spread to Gia Lai and Dak Lak, where it is estimated by state media contacts to have 2,500 followers in three provinces. Government officials charge that exiled FULRO members are taking advantage of the sect’s growing popularity to undermine national unity and national security. Forced renunciation ceremonies and public criticism meetings have been conducted in Kon Tum, Gia Lai, and Dak Lak provinces for people to confess their wrongdoings and sign pledges to abandon the “false religion”.
- On July 12, 2010, state media reported that 97 households, or 297 people, “voluntarily” abandoned Dega Protestantism in the villages of Tok and Roh, Chu Se district, Gia Lai.
- During September 2010, police in collaboration with local officials organized several public criticism ceremonies in Duc Co district, Gia Lai. In one session on September 29, 50 people from four villages in Duc Co district, Gia Lai, were summoned to be formally criticized in front of crowds of commune residents for having “disrupted security and order” on August 25, 2010. After admitting their wrongdoings, they pledged to abandon FULRO and Dega Protestantism.
- In October 2010, state media reported that 567 households related to Dega Protestantism had committed to “renouncing” the religion in Krong Pa district, Gia Lai, with the commune chief making daily visits to pressure 15 remaining households who pledged to abandon their religion.
- In November 2010, state media reported on the ongoing “Struggle to Eliminate Dega Protestantism” in Ia Grai and Duc Co districts of Gia Lai, where the border army was breaking up “reactionary gangs” of Dega Protestants in the border areas and bringing them in for public criticism sessions.
- On November 24, 2010, a public denunciation meeting was held in Hring village, Cu Mgar district, Dak Lak, in which followers of the Ha Mon Catholic sect “volunteered” to confess their wrongdoings and sign commitments pledging to abandon the “false” Ha Mon religion.
Additional incidents of forced renunciations of faith and public denunciation ceremonies can be found in the Annex at the end of this report.
 While Decree 22 “strictly forbids coercion of citizens to convert or renounce one’s religion” and states that “all acts of violation shall be dealt with by the law” (art. 2), it has been used as the basis for official campaigns to force Dega Protestantsand other Montagnard Christians to recant their religion, based on its banning of religious activities deemed to violate national security or undermine national solidarity. Decree 22/2005/ND-CP, “Instructions for Implementing the New Ordinance on Beliefs and Religions,” March 2005.
 Xuan Hoang & Van Tu, “Abandon ‘Dega Protestantism’ to return to the community” (Bo “Tin Lanh De Ga”, ve voi cong dong), Quan Doi Nhan Dan (People’s Army), September 25, 2010, http://www.qdnd.vn/qdndsite/vi-VN/61/43/7/24/24/124799/Default.aspx (accessed February 2, 2011).
Le Quang Hoi, “Towards Village Peace and Development” (De lang que binh yen, phat trien), Department of Information and Communications of Gia Lai, December 15, 2010, http://tttt.gialai.gov.vn/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=321:-lang-que-binh-yen-phat-trin&catid=95:tin-tng-hp&Itemid=119 (accessed January 13, 2011).
 “Kontum: Police Prevent a Bishop from Visiting Isolated Christian Communities” (Kontum : la Sécurité publique empêche un évêque de rendre visite à des communautés chrétiennes isolées), Bulletin Eglises D’Asie, no. 539, November 9, 2010, http://eglasie.mepasie.org/asie-du-sud-est/vietnam/kontum-la-securite-publique-empeche-un-eveque-de-rendre-visite-a-des-communautes-chretiennes-isolees (accessed December 4, 2010).
 “Vietnam: Bishop of Kontum banned from celebrating Christmas Mass with Montagnards,” Asia News, December 27, 2010, http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=45755&t=Vietnam%3A+++Bishop+of+Kontum+banned+from+celebrating+Christmas+Mass+with+Montagnards (accessed December 27, 2010).
While none of these instances were described in the government-controlled press as “forced,” the voluntary character of a public renunciation of faith is suspect, particularly when it is conducted ostensibly for public display, and reported on in the state media.
The two men were Y Brim (Ama Luong), 38, and Y K Rum (Ama Xuan), from Dak R’la village, according to Bao Dak Nong (Dak Nong newspaper); Trong Ruc, “Thuan An Launches a Mass Movement to Protect National Security” (Thuan an phat dong phong trao quan chung bao ve an ninh), Bao Dak Nong, June 23, 2010, http://www.baodaknong.org.vn/newsdetails.aspx?newsid=4730 (accessed July 10, 2010).
 Tran Cong, “Unmask the hoax of the reactionary clique” (Gia Lai: Lat tay tro lua bip cua bon phan dong), Bao Gia Lai, July 30, 2010, http://www.baogialai.com.vn/channel/1602/201007/Gia-Lai-Lat-tay-tro-lua-bip-cua-bon-phan-dong-1952887/ (accessed August 15, 2010).
Ngoc Nhu, “The Truth about the False Ha Mon Religion” (Su that ve ta dao Ha Mon), Cong An Nhan Dan, July 27, 2010, http://www.cand.com.vn/vi-VN/xahoi/2010/7/134493.cand (accessed November 30, 2010).
Viet Nghia, “Public Criticism of Followers of False Religion” (Kiem diem cac doi tuong theo ta dao Ha Mon), Bao Dak Lak, November 26, 2010, http://www.baodaklak.vn/channel/3690/201011/Kiem-diem-cac-doi-tuong-theo-ta-dao-Ha-Mon-1967691/ (accessed March 21, 2011); Viet Nghia, “Eliminate the False 'Ha Mon' Religion from Society” (Loai bo ta dao 'Ha Mon' ra khoi doi song xa hoi), Bao Dak Lak, December 8, 2010, http://baodaklak.vn/channel/3485/201012/Loai-bo-ta-dao-Ha-Mon-ra-khoi-doi-song-xa-hoi-1969228/ (accessed February 20, 2011); Le Quang Hoi, “Towards village peace and development” (De Lang Que Binh Yen, Phat Trien), Gia Lai Bureau for Information and Communications, December 15, 2010, http://tttt.gialai.gov.vn/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=321:-lang-que-binh-yen-phat-trin&catid=95:tin-tng-hp&Itemid=119 (accessed January 13, 2011).
Thai Kim Nga, “Stories from Ia Blang Commune [Chu Se]” (Chuyen ghi o xa Ia Blang), Bao Bien Phong (Bien Phong newspaper), July 12, 2010, http://www.bienphong.com.vn/nd5/detail/phong-su-ky-su/chuyen-ghi-o-xa-ia-blang/38563.074.html (accessed August 1, 2010).
 N. Nhu, “Hook Up with FULRO to spread reactionary propaganda” (Cau ket voi FULRO tuyen truyen phan dong), Cong An Nhan Dan (People’s Police), September 8, 2010, http://ca.cand.com.vn/vi-vn/thoisuxahoi/thoiluan/2010/9/168205.cand (accessed October 1, 2010); S.C., “Criticism of 50 Subjects in Social Disturbances in Ia Dok Commune, Duc Co” (Kiem diem 50 doi tuong gay roi tai xa Ia Doc-Duc Co), Bao Gia Lai, October 1, 2010, http://www.baogialai.com.vn/channel/1602/201010/Kiem-diem-50-doi-tuong-gay-roi-tai-xa-ia-dok-duc-Co-1960717/ (accessed November 11, 2010); Thuc Vy, “Duc Co: Resolutely Fight to Eliminate the Reactionary Organization FULRO” (Huyen Duc Co: Kien quyet dau tranh xoa bo to chuc phan dong FULRO), Bao Gia Lai, October 2, 2010, http://www.baogialai.com.vn/channel/1602/201010/Huyen-duc-Co-Kien-quyet-dau-tranh-voi-bon-phan-dong-FuLRo-1960807/ (accessed October 12, 2010).
Hong Son & Van Vinh, “When ‘mass mobilization is carried out well,’ the Party wins the heart of the people” (Khi “Dan van kheo” thi long dan hop y dang), Bao Gia Lai, October 2, 2010, http://baogialai.com.vn/channel/5921/201010/Khi-dan-van-kheo-thi-long-dan-hop-y-dang-1960795/ (accessed November 1, 2010).
 Thai Kim Nga, “Gia Lai: Struggle to Eliminate ‘Dega Protestantism’” (Gia Lai: Dau tranh loai bo 'Tin lanh De-ga'), Bao Gia Lai, November 4, 2010, http://baogialai.vn/channel/1602/201011/Gia-Lai-dau-tranh-loai-bo-Tin-lanh-de-ga-1965141/ (accessed January 21, 2011).
 Viet Nghia, “Public Criticism of Followers of False Religion,” Bao Dak Lak, November 24, 2010.