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Local troops strengthen solidarity with ethnic, religious people: A highlight of Binh Thuan armed forces’ mass mobilisation

Religion and religious work are matters of strategic importance to national construction and defence. On consistently carrying out standpoints and policies of our Party and State on religion and religious work, in recent years, the armed forces of Binh Thuan province have successfully built the model: The provincial armed forces enhance solidarity with ethnic, religious people, which contributes to the strengthening and preservation of unity and close-knit relationships with people and defeat of hostile forces’ plots and acts of separating the military from people.

Binh Thuan is a coastal province, which is located in the South Central Coast, adjacent to the southern key economic zone, and home to 35 ethnic groups. 34 out of these are ethnic minorities. The ethnic minorities are unequal in population size, and inhabit vast areas of all districts, town, and city. There are 17 communes purely inhabited by ethnic minorities, and 32 hamlets where ethnic people live together with Kinh people. There are eight religions recognised by the State in the province, including Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Caodaism, Brahmanism, Bani Islam, Baha’i Faith, and Vietnamese Pure Land Buddhism Association.

Over the past few years, ethnic and religious work has drawn regular attention of party committees and local authorities and been undertaken in a close, careful manner by departments, branches, and unions. Consequently, the socio-economic situation in areas inhabited by ethnic minority and religious people witnesses steady, comprehensive progress. The people’s material, cultural, and spiritual life is increasingly improved. National defence, security, political system, and great national solidarity have been further strengthened and promoted. Nevertheless, hostile forces, reactionaries, and political opportunists exploit issues of “democracy,” “human rights,” “race,” and “religion” to step up propaganda and distortion with a view to fomenting anti-Party, anti-State, and anti-military sentiment; illegal spread of religion, superstition, inciting illegal gatherings to file complaints, appropriation of public lands, etc., exerting considerable influence on political security, social order, and military, defence missions in localities.

Constructing a cultural and sports centre for the people of Dan Hiep village, Thuan Hoa commune, Ham Thuan Bac district, Binh Thuan province

Selection and building of exemplary units; review and multiplication of the model

Being imbued with Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts: “Without people, there would be no soldiers” and “People provide a solid foundation and are soldiers’ parents” while grasping and implementing directives and resolutions of the Party, State, Central Military Commission (CMC), and Ministry of National Defence (MND) on ethnic, religious work, most notably the Resolution No. 25-NQ/TW, dated 12 March 2003, of the Party Central Committee (9th tenure) on religious work; the Resolution No. 49-NQ/QUTW, dated 26 January 2015, of the Central Military Commission on “Strengthening and reforming the military’s mass mobilisation in the new situation” and the Resolution No. 2528-NQ/DU, dated 21 July 2015, of the 7th  Military Region Party Committee on “Strengthening and reforming mass mobilisation of the Military Region armed forces in the new situation”, the Provincial Military Party Committee and Command have adopted many realistic leadership solutions concurrently to gradually bring about practical results. One of the most effective, prominent solutions was produced in 2016, when the Provincial Military Command directed the District Commands of Duc Linh and Bac Binh, the two key areas with sensitive issues relating to ethnic minorities and religion, to construct the model: “The district armed forces promote solidarity with religious compatriots.” Given the drastic direction of the Provincial Military Party Committee and Command, directly the Political Department, the two units have brought into play overall strength of their organisations, cadres, party members, and the masses to successfully build this model, initially gaining positive outcomes and contributing to firm preservation of political security, socio-economic development, and robust national defence and security. On the basis of achievements recorded in the building of two exemplary units in 2018, the Provincial Military Command has conducted study and review of experience and decided to multiply the model: The provincial armed forces strengthen solidarity with ethnic, religious compatriots in the province with major contents as follows.

First, promoting collaboration that aims to successfully propagandise the Party’s standpoints and guidelines, the State’s policies and laws, national traditions, and national defence, security missions among people from ethnic minority groups, religious followers and dignitaries; resolutely struggle to expose the hostile forces’ schemes to exploit ethnic, religious issues to carry out “peaceful evolution,” riots and subversion, undermine the great national solidarity, and cause socio-political unrest in localities.

Second, enhancing political, ideological education to raise awareness of standpoints, guidelines, and policies of the Party, State, and province as well as missions of the military, Military Region, and provincial armed forces regarding ethnic, religious work in the new situation among cadres, party members, soldiers, members of the militia and self-defence force, the reserve, and people.

Third, coordinating efforts of party committees, authorities, agencies, Fatherland front, unions, and socio-political organisations at all levels; effectively participating in movements and campaigns, especially emulation movements: “The provincial armed forces join hands with authorities and people to build new-style countryside,” and “The entire nation makes joint effort to support the poor: No one is left behind.” The provincial armed forces actively help people to promote their livelihood and socio-economic development; get rid of unsound customs and preserve national cultural identity; prevent and overcome the aftermath of natural disasters; successfully realise social policy and ethnic, religious work in the new situation. Actively working closely with localities, religious organisations in the area, and benefactors to raise funds for building “civil-military houses of gratitude” for ethnic, religious people in need.

Fourth, successfully interacting and forging a close friendship with people from ethnic minority groups living in the hinterland and religious areas; visit and give presents on the occasion of festivals and new years of people from ethnic minority groups and religion. Cultivation of national defence, security knowledge among village patriarchs, religious dignitaries, monks, and religious ministers must be conducted successfully. Every year, village patriarchs, religious dignitaries, monks, and religious ministers are invited to visit military units and historical monuments in the province and beyond.

Fifth, when the provincial armed forces are requested to collaborate and participate in addressing complex problems in their area relating to ethnic minority groups and religion, they must strictly abide by State law and regulations of the Ministry of National Defence. Attention should be paid to the role of making recommendations to local party committees and authorities on encouraging the involvement of progressive village patriarchs, religious dignitaries, and religious followers in settling internal affairs of ethnic minority groups and religions, using the masses to resolve their internal affairs, protecting legitimate interests of the masses.

Sixth, closely following their functions and missions to apply flexibly and creatively ways of conducting mass mobilisation, ensuring suitability for situations in the area. Cadres and soldiers of the provincial armed forces must be educated and trained regularly to foster political steadfastness, fine dignity, exemplary working competence and style; strictly comply with civil-military relation discipline, especially in ethnic, religious areas; continue to leverage fine dignity and traditions of “Uncle Ho’s Soldiers,” achieving unity between the military and people.

Outcomes of the model

Thanks to the model, awareness, and responsibility to care for and support ethnic, religious people of cadres and soldiers of the provincial armed forces have seen impressive, considerable changes. The provincial military command has instructed its departments and units to enhance interactions and forge close friendship with communes purely inhabited by people from ethnic minority groups, villages with mixed ethnic groups, and communes and villages with religious people. Every year, district, town military commands meet with village patriarchs, honourable men, religious dignitaries, ministers, and followers, and give them presents in important events and new years of ethnic minority groups and religions. Gifts are also delivered to children during Mid-Autumn Festival. Departments and units also focus their efforts on helping ethnic, religious people in remote areas, including repairing and building roads in the countryside, repairing and dredging inland canals and waterways, building dikes to stop sea water flooding onto the fields, repairing houses, providing medical check-ups, medicine, and presents for people under preferential treatment, the poor, and lonely elderly persons in their areas. Over the past five years, the provincial military command has collaborated with party committees, local authorities, and religious organisations to build 37 civil-military houses of gratitude, worth VND 3.5 billion. On implementing the policy of the Military Region Party Committee’s Standing Board and Command on strengthening unity and close ties to facilitate understanding and confidence building between the military region armed forces and ethnic, religious organisation, the provincial military command has collaborated with party committees and local authorities to build facilities for cultural activities and sport events in ethnic, religious areas; organise Civil-Military New Year Festivals and Zero-price New Year Festival Supermarket; visit and congratulate people living in mountainous communes on the occasion of their New Rice Festival, and so on. In the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, officers and soldiers of the provincial armed forces promote propaganda to encourage religious organisations, dignitaries, ministers, and followers and monks to bring into play humanism and philanthropy of religions to join hands with authorities at all levels and the entire people to push back the COVID-19 pandemic; strictly adopt epidemic prevention and response measures according to the “5K” message of the Ministry of Health. Besides, they are requested to effectively participate in other models such as zero-price stalls, free lift, “2 securities,” i.e. public security and social security, and directly deliver food and necessities to people in need.

Outcomes of the model: The provincial armed forces enhance solidarity with ethnic, religious people of Binh Thuan armed forces have contributed to good implementation of welfare policies and economic development policies; firm maintenance of political security, social order and safety; strengthening of people’s confidence in the Party, authorities, and armed forces, further beautifying fine dignity of “Uncle Ho’s Soldiers” in the new situation.

Senior Colonel LE VAN HOI, Deputy Commissar of the Provincial Military Command

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