Hoa Hao (Hoahaoism) is a religious sect created by leader Huynh Phu So (Huỳnh Phú Sổ) in 1939, combining Buddhism philosophy with local customs, morality, and beliefs. Having the strongest base in the Mekong Delta region and millions of followers, Hoa Hao quickly became one of the most influential religious organizations, whose power could rival any other political organization at the time, including Việt Minh, the proxy of the Indochina Communist Party. Viet Minh leadership did not accept this, and Huynh Phu So was reportedly assassinated by communist forces in 1947. The incident lead to the long-standing hostility between the two parties.
After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Hoa Hao faced constant harassment, and sect leaders were accused of “treason.” Their loyal members were also sent to re-education camps or persecuted. In 1999, Hoa Hao was eventually broken into two factions. One is officially recognized by the regime, while the other part trying to preserve Hoa Hao’s original practices is outlawed. The authorities routinely harass followers of the unapproved groups, charge them for breaking the law, put them under house arrest, prohibit public readings of the Hoa Hao founder's writings, and discourage worshipers from visiting Hoa Hao pagodas in An Giang and other provinces.