Pilot project employs psychics in searching for MIAs

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The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs has said in a statement that it will put a growing number of psychic corpse finders to the test.

The ministry said there has been an "abnormal" increase in the use of psychic mediums in conducting searches for MIAs in the north-central provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Ha Nam.

The seers are following up on leads provided by the bereaved families. However, the success rate has been low. In many cases, the discovered remains have yet to be identified, according to the statement.

In some cases, these individuals have come to exploit the grief of bereaved families. For example, they have asked families to cover exorbitant expenses, like the costs of an automobile rental during their "searches." In other cases, they have lobbied for charitable donations from businesses and communities.

In August, the ministry will fund a trial program that will employ alleged psychics in conducting searches for the remains of slain soldiers. Any discovered remains will be DNA tested to identify and verify the psychic's claims.

No scientific evidence exists to confirm the effectiveness of psychic mediums. As a result, many people's faith in the practice has been exploited, the ministry said.

"It is necessary for psychics to combine with science to search for missing martyrs," said Bui Hong Linh, deputy minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs during a recent meeting with authorities in the three provinces.

Linh said the ministry has instructed relevant agencies to work with psychics and set aside funds for follow-up DNA testing. The pilot project will offer an answer to whether or not psychics are capable of finding the remains of war martyrs, he said.

He also instructed authorities in the three provinces to closely monitor and issue strict fines against psychics who are capitalizing on the good faith of bereaved families.

After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, numerous psychics have come forward claiming an ability to telepathically pinpoint the burial sites of Vietnamese war martyrs.

According to the Science Technology Union for Informatics Application (UIA), some psychics have tracked down more than 1,000 missing martyrs each, including Nguyen Van Nha, Phan Thi Bich Hang, Nguyen Thi Nguyen, Do Ba Hiep, Nguyen Van Lien and Vu Thi Minh Nghia.

About 300,000 Vietnamese soldiers of the liberation forces are still listed as missing from the war, Vietnamese figures show.

According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, there were 753,816 war martyr graves in cemeteries nationwide by 2005.

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