As part of the 2011 religious freedom training series co-conducted by the Vietnamese Government’s Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA) and IGE, a three-day training took place from 6-8 November 2011, in Dien Bien Province. Dien Bien reportedly has been experiencing religious unrest since May 2011.

151 local authorities were trained on the Vietnamese Government’s policies on religious freedom, emphasizing the need for registering house churches and the basic theology of Protestant faith. The training also encouraged participants to be more responsible towards national unity by respecting and building close and equal relationships with religious and non-religious people at the local level. During the opening discussion, a number of participants, both local authorities and Protestant leaders, contributed significant ideas about addressing the religious situation in their province.

At the training, CRA staff and provincial authorities told Hien Vu, IGE’s program officer, that the provincial authorities are considering registering 10 house churches soon with a high probability that 6 out of the10 churches will be registered by the end of the year. Currently there are three registered churches out of hundreds of church registration applications in the province. In the last two decades, the number of Protestant converts has been rapidly increasing especially among the ethnic minorities in Dien Bien Province.

Footage from the training aired on Dien Bien TV News, you can watch the segment on YouTube.