Religion Bulletin, August 2023: Ministry of Public Security Alleges Dak Lak Attack Linked to FULRO, BPSOS

The international community is concerned about threats to religious minorities in Vietnam.

Religion Bulletin, August 2023: Ministry of Public Security Alleges Dak Lak Attack Linked to FULRO, BPSOS

[The Government’s Reach]

Internal Security Bureau, Ministry of Public Security: Deadly Dak Lak attack linked to exile FULRO, BPSOS organizations

The People's Police Television webpage, quoting the Internal Security Bureau and the Ministry of Public Security, asserted that the deadly June 11, 2023 attack on two People's Committees in Dak Lak Province is linked to the overseas-based organizations FULRO, a French acronym for the United Liberation Front for the Oppressed Races, dedicated to driving the Vietnamese from the highlands, and Montagnards Stand for Justice. [1]

The bureau believes that two people, Y Mut Mlo, who is the head of FULRO in-exile in the United States, and Y Quynh Bdap of Montagnards Stand for Justice, financed and directed the organizing of forces, means, weapons, and instructions on how to carry out the attack.

On May 26, 2023, the People's Police newspaper published an article criticizing Y Quynh Bdap for misleading and inciting people to oppose the state. The newspaper said Bdap, 31, from Krong Ana District, crossed the border to Thailand with his family in August 2018. Previously, he had been detained by Vietnamese authorities in 2012 for "undermining national unity" but was later released after 5 months. [2]

Y Quynh Bdap is also said to have collaborated with Pastor A Ga of the Evangelical Church of Christ in anti-government activities. A Ga, now settled in the United States, was prosecuted by the Vietnamese government in April 2023 for "undermining national unity."

Furthermore, the Internal Security Bureau stated that Y Mut Mlo and Y Quynh Bdap "have close ties" to BPSOS, a U.S.-based NGO that advocates for religious freedom in Vietnam. However, whether the stated relationship was related to the Dak Lak attack is unclear.

In June 2023, Nguyen Dinh Thang, president of BPSOS, confirmed to Luat Khoa magazine that BPSOS' activities in Vietnam - including online training courses on human rights in the Central Highlands - absolutely do not seek to overthrow the government or support armed violence.

In recent years, BPSOS and Montagnards Stand for Justice have organized training sessions on documenting the Vietnamese government's suppression of Montagnards in the Central Highlands to send to international organizations, including the United Nations. This work has made the Vietnamese authorities very uncomfortable, pushing them to assert that these two organizations are anti-state.

Vietnam continues to treat the deadly attack against two commune People's Committee headquarters in Dak Lak Province very seriously. As of July 2023, more than 90 people have been arrested. [3]

Ha Giang Province: 280 People Sign Pledges Renouncing the “San Su Khe To” Religion

In August 2023, Meo Vac District authorities reported that after two months of "propaganda," 280 Hmong had abandoned the “San Su Khe To” religion. [4]

In addition to signing pledges renouncing the religion, these individuals also promised authorities they would return to their traditional Hmong beliefs.

The government believes that “San Su Khe To” is a false religion, pushing people to give up their traditional beliefs and to pray when sick rather than seek hospital treatment.

Since the late 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Hmong have abandoned their traditional beliefs to follow Protestantism and some new religions. This shift in faith has helped the Hmong abandon costly and time-consuming worship customs.

However, this shift has also caused conflicts within the Hmong community, particularly between groups that have maintained traditional beliefs and those that have abandoned them.

Due to security and order concerns, authorities have used various means, including leveraging this conflict, to force practitioners to renounce Protestantism and new religions and return to their traditional beliefs.

An Giang Province: Citizen Arrested for Using Religion to Oppose Party, State

On Aug. 4, 2023, the An Giang Provincial Security Investigation Bureau arrested Nguyen Hoang Nam for using religion to oppose the state. [5]

The bureau indicted Nam under Article 117 of the Penal Code for "distributing and propagating information and documents aimed at opposing the state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam".

Nam, 41, resides in Vinh Chau Commune in the city of Chau Doc (An Giang Province). The press reported that he completed a prison sentence in 2021 but did not specify the crime committed.

Police report that Nam had created many social media accounts to post divisive content and undermine religious unity policy.

Authorities are increasingly prosecuting people for exercising their freedom of expression, including campaigning for freedom of religion.

Vinh Phuc Province: Authorities Stop Pair from Distributing Falun Gong Materials

On Aug. 1, 2023, Tam Dao District authorities (Vinh Phuc Province) stopped two Hanoians from distributing Falun Gong materials to residents. [6]

It was reported that 22 books and 29 brochures related to Falun Gong were confiscated.

Tam Dao District authorities believe Falun Gong ultimately seeks to entice and gather forces to participate in political activities.

Falun Gong is among the new religions banned in Vietnam; those who spread the religion are subject to administrative sanctions and confiscation of documents.

Authorities Bar Two New Hmong Priests from Carrying Out Religious Ceremonies

The Facebook page “Tin Mung Cho Nguoi Ngheo” (“Good News for the Poor) reported that Song Ma District authorities refused to allow two new Hmong priests to publicly say Mass. [7]

The authorities did not specify a reason for the refusal.

The two priests who were forbidden to hold Mass were Giuse [Joseph] Gianh A Senh and Giuse Song A Tong. The two were ordained on Aug. 17, 2023, in Hung Hoa Diocese and are the first-ever Hmong priests in Vietnam.
The three inaugural Hmong priests. Source: Hung Hoa Diocese.

According to Catholic tradition, after being ordained, new priests return to their birthplaces to offer thanksgiving and pray for peace in the parish.

Catholics in ethnic minority areas still face many difficulties from local authorities. Dignitaries must earn the government’s trust before they can act without hindrance.

[Religion 360*]

2023 International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief

From Aug. 20-22, 2023, independent Protestant groups in Dak Lak Province and Thailand marked International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, held on Aug. 22 annually. [8]

The commemoration took place in dispersed groups to avoid government repression.
Left: A Protestant group in Buon Don District (Dak Lak Province) organizes for the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. Source: Montagnards Stand for Justice.

The “Mach Song [Life Circuit] Media” page reported that a number of local authorities in unspecified locations had issued threats against the organizing of commemorations. Still, currently, there have been no reports of any direct acts of repression. [9]

In recent years, the Vietnamese government has strictly prohibited religious groups from gathering to mark this day. Except for a very small number of Catholic churches, registered religious groups do not celebrate this commemoration.

Last year in An Giang Province, authorities dispersed a commemoration and forced the head of the household to sign a non-repeat pledge. [10]

European Union: Concerns about Threats to the Rights of Religious Minorities

In its Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2022, the European Union made clear its concerns about the rights of religious minorities in Vietnam. [11]

Among religious minority groups are the Montagnard community in the Central Highlands, ethnic minority groups in the northern mountainous areas, and groups that cannot register religious activities due to government discrimination, such as the Unified Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam.

Other religious minority groups include new religions that are banned by the government, such as the World Mission Society Church of God, the Duong Van Minh religion, and the Gie Sua religion.

The EU stated that several new government regulations that have been or are about to be adopted will further limit people's religious freedom.

It said its activities in Vietnam would continue to promote freedom of expression, including freedom of religion.


1. Đấu tranh làm thất bại âm mưu lợi dụng vấn đề dân tộc, tôn giáo để chống phá. ANTV.

2. Văn Thành. (2023, May 26). Y Quynh Bdăp, kẻ phá hoại buôn làng ở Tây Nguyên - Báo Công an Nhân dân điện tử. Báo Công an Nhân Dân Điện Tử.

3. Trần Hóa. (2023, July 21). Thêm ba người tấn công trụ sở xã ở Đăk Lăk bị bắt. VnExpress.

4. Hà Linh. (2023, August 15). Nỗ lực ngăn chặn, đẩy lùi tà đạo. Báo Quân đội nhân dân.

5. Lê Vũ - Tiến Tầm. (2023, August 4). An Giang: Bắt đối tượng sử dụng mạng xã hội để chống Đảng, Nhà nước. Báo Dân Tộc Và Phát Triển.

6. Vĩnh Phúc: Phát hiện, xử lý đối tượng tuyên truyền Pháp Luân Công trái phép. (2023, August 13). Tạp chí điện tử Luật sư Việt Nam.

7. Tin mừng cho người nghèo. (2023, August 23).

8. Người Thượng vì công lý. (2023, August).

9. Mach Song Editor. (n.d.). Tưởng niệm nạn nhân của hành vi bạo lực dựa trên niềm tin hay tôn giáo.


11. Báo cáo thường niên của EU về Nhân quyền và Dân chủ trên Thế giới năm 2022 - Cập nhật về Việt Nam | EEAS. (n.d.).

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