Police in Vietnam raid Christian-run leper colony; residents “Terrorised”

September 12, 2012 by  
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Village in Daklak, Vietnam

Village in Daklak, Vietnam

Vietnam, August 24, 2012: Police in Vietnam raided a Christian-run leper colony, replacing Christian symbols with a picture of Ho Chi Minh, who established Communism in the country.

Officers entered the village, which has around 160 residents including leper patients and volunteer helpers, in Gia Kai province, and ordered them to remove the church bell and knock down the bell tower.

Other religious symbols were removed or destroyed, including the cross from the chapel. A picture of Ho Chi Minh was placed inside as a symbol of Communist victory over the Christians.

One villager said that the residents felt “terrorised” by the abuse and threats to which they were subjected during the raid, and many have not been able to eat and sleep as a result.

According to official figures, there are at least 18,000 people with leprosy in Vietnam. Many of them are Christians, who live in remote areas of the Central Highlands.

The Church is at the forefront of caring for lepers and their families, who face much discrimination and are largely left to fend for themselves by society at large.

The Communist authorities in Vietnam are extremely hostile to Christians, whom they perceive as a threat to national security.

Ho Chi Minh led the Viet Minh independence movement in the 1940s, establishing the Communist-ruled Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945. The French colonial powers were defeated by the Viet Minh in 1954 but subsequent negotiations divided the country, with only the north under Communist rule. The Viet Minh conquered the south in 1975, after Ho Chi Minh’s death, and renamed the capital, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh Cityin his honour.

– barnabas team

Vietnam: Orphanage raided & destroyed

April 19, 2012 by  
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Vietnam, April 18, 2012: A group of thugs stormed a Christian orphanage in a late night raid in Vietnam, beat the children and, with help from the police, destroyed the building.

The attack on the Agape Family Centre in the capital, Hanoi, started shortly after midnight on 14 April. The offenders cut the electricity before throwing stones and other objects at the building to frighten the children.

They stormed the building and beat the children; the thugs carried one child away, and as he tried to resist, they repeatedly slapped him round the face.

Around 200 policemen arrived, but rather than protect the children and round up the offenders, they helped the mob to destroy the centre. Witnesses said that it was the police and local authorities who sent the thugs to carry out the initial attack; it appears to be part of their ongoing campaign to harass and intimidate the country’s Christians.   

When Nguyen Van Binh, a local church leader who has been heavily involved in the orphanage, heard about the raid, he rushed to the scene but was blocked by police. They beat him with batons, and he received such severe blows to the head that he lost consciousness. He was taken to hospital, where his condition was described as life-threatening. Other Christians were also wounded during the attack.  

Local Christians denounced this latest act of state-sponsored persecution. One man expressed his dismay that, rather than respecting and encouraging the Church’s charitable activities, the authorities had destroyed the orphanage. 

– barnabas team

Vietnam: Leader of unregistered house church jailed for 11 years *Iran: 12 Christians stand trial Easter Sunday

April 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Asia, Iran, newsletter-asia, Persecution, Vietnam

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Christians face severe persecution in the Central Highlands - GFDL by DXLINH

Vietnam, April 04, 2012: The pastor of a house church in Vietnam has been jailed for eleven years for “disrupting national unity”.

The 43-year-old church leader admitted to leading the unregistered church in the Central Highlands, where ethnic minority Christians face persecution and restrictions, during a one-day trial.

He had been arrested in April and was also convicted of handing out anti-government leaflets and “enticing ethnic minorities to commit wrongdoing”.

The church leader, who is highly esteemed within the Christian community, was described as “a good man” by one believer.

All churches in Vietnam are supposed to register with the government and submit to its direction. Unregistered groups are particularly vulnerable to persecution, and any religious activity deemed to cause public disorder, harm national security or “sow divisions” is banned. Church buildings have been destroyed and Christians imprisoned on charges of violating national security.

Christians in some areas of the Central Highlands are among the worst affected. In its latest annual report, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that the Secretary of State designate Vietnam a “Country of Particular Concern” for “systematic and egregious limitations” of religious freedom. CPC designation is reserved for the world’s worst violators of religious freedom; others on the list this year included Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

The USCIRF’s report said:
The government of Vietnam continues to control all religious communities, restrict and penalize independent religious practice severely, and repress individuals and groups viewed as challenging its authority.

Individuals continue to be imprisoned or detained for reasons related to their religious activity or religious freedom advocacy; independent religious activity remains illegal; legal protections for government-approved religious organizations are both vague and subject to arbitrary or discriminatory interpretations based on political factors; and new converts to ethnic-minority Protestantism and members of one Buddhist community face discrimination, intimidation, and pressure to renounce their faith.

He had been arrested in April and was also convicted of handing out anti-government leaflets and “enticing ethnic minorities to commit wrongdoing”.

The church leader, who is highly esteemed within the Christian community, was described as “a good man” by one believer.

All churches in Vietnam are supposed to register with the government and submit to its direction. Unregistered groups are particularly vulnerable to persecution, and any religious activity deemed to cause public disorder, harm national security or “sow divisions” is banned. Church buildings have been destroyed and Christians imprisoned on charges of violating national security.

Christians in some areas of the Central Highlands are among the worst affected.

In its latest annual report, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that the Secretary of State designate Vietnam a “Country of Particular Concern” for “systematic and egregious limitations” of religious freedom. CPC designation is reserved for the world’s worst violators of religious freedom; others on the list this year included Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

The USCIRF’s report said:

“The government of Vietnam continues to control all religious communities, restrict and penalize independent religious practice severely, and repress individuals and groups viewed as challenging its authority.

“Individuals continue to be imprisoned or detained for reasons related to their religious activity or religious freedom advocacy; independent religious activity remains illegal; legal protections for government-approved religious organizations are both vague and subject to arbitrary or discriminatory interpretations based on political factors; and new converts to ethnic-minority Protestantism and members of one Buddhist community face discrimination, intimidation, and pressure to renounce their faith.”

– barnabas team

12 Iranian Christians stand trial Easter Sunday

 

Iran, April 09, 2012: Twelve Christians are to stand trial in Iran on Easter Sunday on charges including “crimes against the order”, an activist assisting them with advocacy told Worthy News.

Jason DeMars, director of the Present Truth Ministries group, said Friday that the Christians are facing the court in the northeastern city of Rasht, though “they were earlier for the same ‘crimes’ last year in [the Caspian Sea city of] Bandar Anzali.”

“This highlights once again, that it is illegal to be a Christian in Iran,” De Mars said.

Among the Christians is Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and his wife Anahita Khadeimi, he explained. Others were identified as Mahmoud Khosh-Hal and his wife Hava Saadetmend, Amir Goldoust, Mina Goldoust, Zhaina Bahremand, Fatemah Modir-Nouri, Mehrdad Habibzade, Milad Radef, Behzad Taalipasand and Amin Pishkar.

It comes amid reports of mounting pressure on devoted Christians in Iran, including former Muslims, amid a rapidly growing house church movement in the Islamic nation.

Evangelical Christians

There may be at least 100,000 evangelical Christians in Iran, according to conservative estimates, though some groups say that number is much higher.

Monday’s trial is held not far from the prison where Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani faces possible execution for refusing to abandon his faith in Christ and return to Islam, according to court documents seen by Worthy News.

DeMars explained that his group has urged supporters to “pray for these believers as they stand trial” which was to begin early Sunday local time.

“We pray that God gives them courage to stand for their faith, to express themselves clearly and to bring him honor and glory. We also pray that he touches the heart of the judges to acquit these saints of these “crimes,” DeMars told supporters receiving his electronic newsletters.

Iranian officials have consistently denied wrongdoing, saying they try to uphold the values of Islam and the laws of the land.

– worthynews

Seminar on Christian ‘Threat’ sparks outcry in Malaysia *Vietnam jailing of Christian pastor sparks controversy

April 4, 2012 by  
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Malaysia, March 31, 2012: More than 100 Islamic studies teachers in Johor have been ordered to attend a seminar on the “threat” of Christian proselytizing, sparking yet another controversy involving religion in multi-religious Malaysia.

The teachers, from 55 government schools in Johor, have been told to attend the one-day seminar this Saturday, jointly organized by the state education department and the Johor mufti department.

It is illegal in Malaysia to try to convert Muslims to another religion. Muslim leaders said the government of Muslim-majority Malaysia has a duty to defend the religion while Christian leaders called the seminar inflammatory.

“The problem of Christianisation has been around for a long while, it is real,” Datuk Sheikh Abdul Halim Abdul Kadir, president of the Malaysian Ulama Association, told news Web site The Malaysian Insider. “You need to educate teachers, especially the young ones who are unaware of this problem.”

Christian leaders meanwhile decried the seminar. “It is highly insensitive to be held in such a public domain and having the sponsorship of a government agency,” said Herman Shastri, secretary of the Council of Churches Malaysia. “The government should put a stop to this.”

Herman said Christian churches do not condone preaching to Muslims but could not rule out that some isolated fundamentalist groups might attempt it.

Datuk Azman Amin Hassan, head of a Cabinet committee promoting inter-religious understanding, also slammed the seminar as counterproductive to federal efforts to improve religious tolerance.

“I will instruct my officers to look into it and the content of the seminar. We just launched the inter-faith harmony week in schools. This is not in line at all,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

The seminar comes after allegations elsewhere around the country that Christians are preaching to Muslims. Last August, the Selangor Islamic authorities raided a church in Petaling Jaya to investigate allegations that Christians were converting Muslims covertly at a fund-raising dinner.

Since October, a Muslim non-governmental organization called Himpun has organized four rallies, attracting thousands, to protest against proselytizing to Muslims.

Professor Shaharuddin Badaruddin, political science lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Mara, said the government needs to contain such inter-religious flare-ups which usually happen close to elections, when religious hardliners try to pressure a government eager to please Muslim voters.

“Most important is to promote civilisational dialogue, rather than take the confrontational approach to resolving inter-religious issues,” he said. “These issues are normal but needs to be contained to follow the 1Malaysia concept” by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

– the jakarta globe & straits times

Vietnam jailing of Christian pastor sparks controversy

 

Vietnam, March 27, 2012: Christian Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh thought he was helping Vietnam’s Christian community by having a house church. However, the church was not registered with the government and the 43-year-old has been sentenced to 11 years in jail for “disrupting national unity.”

The one-day trial in Gia Lia province has left many questioning the role of faith and Vietnam’s communism. But ultimately, the case, which saw Chinh admit to being in charge of the Mennonite church in the Central Highlands, has left Christians fearful that a backlash, even violence, could become more common.

“11 years in jail because he didn’t register a church that was not hurting anyone? I am shocked,” said Christian woman in Hanoi Pham Nhat, who told Bikyamasr.com she knew people who attended Chinh’s church.

“They always spoke so highly of him and how he was a giving person, so it is wrong that he has to go to jail for his faith,” she added.

Chinh, who was arrested in April, was also convicted of handing out anti-government leaflets and “enticing ethnic minorities to commit wrongdoing,” the report said.

In communist Vietnam all churches have to be sanctioned by the state, a system criticized by rights groups.

“The overarching atmosphere for religious freedom in Vietnam is hostile,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. He called the compulsory registration of religious groups and organisations “a deeply bureaucratic process riddled with pitfalls and Catch 22s.”

Chinh’s case highlights the strange relationship between religion and politics in Vietnam. Political analysts say that while the system is opening up, those responsible for religious institutions must be ready to follow all the regulations no matter what.

“We have to be aware that even though Vietnam is for the most part liberalizing the current rules and regulations for these kinds of things, they don’t want to be seen as relaxed when people don’t follow the law,” said Hanoi University professor Gi Ungien.

For now, the Christian community will have to wait for Nguyen’s release and whether he will receive any form of clemency.

“I really hope so because he is a good man,” added Pham.

– bikyamasr

Church leader beaten unconscious by hired thugs in Vietnam *Soldiers interrupted Christian Conference, threatened MP in Chin State

March 24, 2012 by  
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Vietnam, March 22, 2012: A church leader in Vietnam was beaten unconscious with iron bars by a gang of thugs believed to have been hired by the authorities.

Luy Gonzaga Nguyen Quang Hoa (46) was attacked on 23 February as he was making his way home to Kon Hring after taking a funeral service in another village.

He said:

On the way back to my parish, three strangers on motorbikes came after me and beat me around the head, back, stomach and arms with two iron bars.

He came off his motorbike and was beaten until he passed out. The pastor suffered multiple injuries and cuts. The attackers damaged his motorbike and threw his watch into a nearby lake.

They had reportedly just been released from prison and apparently have connections with the local authorities, who try to prevent Christian ministers from taking services and funerals. Such groups are hired to attack church leaders and Christians in Kon Tum province in the central highlands, which the government has declared a “no religion zone”.

In a challenge to the authorities, the Bishop of Kon Tum, Michael Hoang Duc Oanh, has announced that he will take an Easter service in the parish where Luy was attacked.

He has previously defied the Communist regime’s efforts to restrict religious freedom. Last Easter the bishop took services in the Montagnard village of Son Lang, where he had been prevented from leading Christmas celebrations a few months before. Afterwards, Bishop Michael and a local minister were detained by the police and interrogated for hours. 

The Vietnamese authorities often harass and intimidate the country’s Christians. Unregistered churches and ethnic minority Christians in the central highlands and northwest provinces are particularly vulnerable to persecution. 

Officials break up meetings, confiscate religious literature, and arrest and beat up Christians. Some are pressured to renounce their faith publicly, and hundreds have been sentenced to long prison terms.

– barnabas team

Soldiers interrupted Christian Conference, threatened MP in Chin State

 

Burma, March 20, 2012: In a fresh public incident that contradicts the new image of Chin State government as a peace-loving authority, Burma Army soldiers interrupted a Chin Christian conference and threatened an MP at gunpoint in Chin State, Burma.

In its statement released today, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) said several soldiers from Matupi-based Light Infantry Battalion No. 140 disrupted a Christian gathering of more than 1,000 delegates held at Sabawngte village in Matupi Township on 10 March 2012.

And Captain Aung Zaw Hteik and Captain Myo Min Hteik severely blamed the village headman for not informing them of the event although a prior permission had been officially obtained from the Matupi Township General Administrative Office, according to CHRO.

Pu Van Cin, Chin MP elected last year from the Ethnic National Development Party, was threatened with a gun by Captain Myo Min Hteik in civilian clothes when he came to the scene introducing himself to the army officers. 

The Captain was quoted by CHRO as saying: “I don’t give a [expletive] about you being a Member of Parliament. We are not under the control of the Chin State authorities. We take orders from the North Western Regional Command.”

CHRO’s Program Director Salai Za Uk Ling said: “It is very difficult for Chin Christians to hold large gatherings without harassment and disruption.”

The soldiers remained in the village overnight, disrupting the worship service by carrying guns and patrolling around the church, according to the statement.

“As far as we know, no legal or disciplinary action has been taken against these soldiers from LIB140. They violated the right to freedom of religious assembly and threatened a Chin MP in front of dozens of witnesses, and clearly believe they are above the law. This incident highlights the problem of impunity in Burma, especially for members of the armed forces,” continued Salai Za Uk Ling of CHRO, an organization that has monitored human rights situation  in Chin State since 1995.

The Christian conference attended by delegates from 80 local branches of the Mara (Chin) Evangelical Church at Sabawngte village in a remote part of Matupi Township took place from 8-13 March 2012.

Although armed resistance group the Chin National Front signed a preliminary ceasefire agreement with the Chin State government in January this year, Chin State remains heavily militarized, with 54 Burma Army camps stationed in all nine main township areas of the state.

– van biak thang, chinlandguardian

Nepal: Religious Liberty Under Attack *Vietnam: Extreme Violence with Impunity

December 2, 2011 by  
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Leafletsfound NepaNepal, November 30, 2011: A crude bomb exploded in Thapathali, Kathmandu, on 22 November, outside the offices of United Mission in Nepal (UMN), a Christian non-governmental organisation (NGO) that has been working to relieve poverty in Nepal since 1954. A second bomb was disarmed. No one was injured. Police found leaflets at the site from the Nepal Defense Army (NDA), a militant Hindu nationalist group that has targeted Christians previously. The leaflets accused the UMN of converting Hindus to Christianity. Then on the following Sunday, 27 November, a suspicious parcel was discovered outside the Assemblies of God Navajiwan Church in central Kathmandu. The police bomb squad who defused the bomb said it contained three powerful explosives that would have done considerable damage had the bomb exploded. Meanwhile, on 22 Nov, two Christian brothers, Panchman Tamang and Buddhiman, were
violently assaulted and expelled from their predominantly Buddhist
village in Sindhupalchowk district, north of Kathmandu near the border
with Tibet. Instead of defending religious liberty, the government is appeasing the belligerent by drafting anti-conversion laws. Pray for the Church in Nepal.

Vietnam: Extreme Violence with Impunity

Vietnam House ChurVietnam, November 30, 2011: Leaders of the 2200-member Agape Baptist Church (ABC) — a house church network near Hanoi — were violently assaulted on Sunday 13 November, Compass Direct News reports. They were meeting in Lai Tao village, Bot Xuyen commune, My Duc district at the home of evangelist Nguyen Thi Lan, a former Communist Party (female) official who recently converted to Christianity. Unhappy about conversions in the village, the gang of over a dozen local thugs (including plain-clothed police) burst in savagely beating the leaders while looting and ransacking the home.

Nine pastors and other church leaders along with several of their teenage children sustained serious injuries. Most critically injured was Pastor Nguyen Danh Chau who was unconscious for several hours. When ABC head Nguyen Cong Thanh visited on 15 November he said, ‘All they could do was weep, and I also could not prevent my tears from flowing.’With local hospitals proving reluctant to aid the pastors, ABC eventually evacuated the most critically wounded to a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. Ms Nguyen Thi Lan and Pastor Nguyen Danh Chau have suffered potentially crippling injuries. No one has been arrested and the gang is threatening to kill Nguyen Thi Lan if she ever returns. The impunity granted to the persecutors guarantees that persecution will only escalate. Pray for the Church in Vietnam.

– elizabeth Kendal

Pakistan: Christians suffer discrimination in prisons *The Church in Vietnam

November 21, 2011 by  
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The Catholic lawyer Moazzam Aslam Bhatti

The Catholic lawyer Moazzam Aslam Bhatti

Pakistan, November 16, 2011: The Catholic lawyer Moazzam Aslam Bhatti, who works in Faisalabad, has told the International Catholic Charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), that Christian prisoners in Pakistani gaols are subject to particularly severe discrimination. He pointed out that Christians are marginalised and disadvantaged everywhere in Pakistani society, but their situation in the prisons is particularly precarious. Along with the Dominican fathers who provide prison pastoral care in the Diocese of Faisalabad, Bhatti regularly visits Christian prisoners and provides legal aid. Those in jail in the city include shopkeeper Imran Masih who was sentenced to life imprisonment in January 2010 under the country’s Blasphemy Laws for allegedly burning pages of the Qur’an. Mr Masih denied the charge. It is alarming to note, the lawyer said, that many people jailed for minor offences could have been released if they had been able to pay the fines imposed on them. Those affected also include children who are compelled to stay in prison together with their mothers. Christians are also disadvantaged in the distribution of food, clothing and medicines, as well as in their ability to practise their religion. This situation must change, Bhatti demanded. As a rule, Christian prisoners have no lawyer on account of their poverty and low social position. More legal aid must be provided to them in order to improve their situation. Bhatti, who studied in England, told ACN: “Despite receiving good job offers abroad, I returned to Pakistan in order to do whatever is in my power to help the people.” Although he can do little to change the situation, he is “proud to be able to do something for the people in this part of the world where Christians are oppressed and pushed to the margins.” According to the Dominican Father Iftikhar Moon, who is responsible for prison pastoral care in the Diocese of Faisalabad, the city of Faisalabad has a prison population of 5,000, including 85 to 100 Christians.

– aidtochurch

The Church in Vietnam

 

Fr. Nguyen Van PhuongVietnam, November 12, 2011: Vietnamese Catholics are currently praying and celebrating Mass in memory of their country’s 117 martyrs, who were canonised by John Paul II on 16 June 1988. The various communities, especially those of Hanoi, are also commemorating today’s martyrs, those who are oppressed, those who have lost their jobs or are discriminated against because of their religion, those who pray and work for justice and peace, as well as those who proclaim the Word of God. The latest case is on 3 November, when hundreds of police agents and soldiers broke down the church’s main door, tried to pick a quarrel with the vicar and parishioners present and threatened to kill members of the Redemptorist Order. The attack came after local authorities tried to force the Redemptorists to give up part of parish land they have owned since 1928 in order to build a water treatment plant for the nearby hospital. After the attack, the vicar called on the authorities to drop their plans and return the land they had seized from the parish. Between 2008 and 2009, the parish lost 41,455 m2 of the 61,455 it owned. The whole thing ended in a phoney trial that saw. “We agree with the local project to improve the life of the community,” Fr Nguyen Van Phuong, vicar to the Thai Ha Parish Church, said. “However, this should not mean looting out congregation.” Redemptorists rented Church land to local authorities during the war. The latter used it and now should return it to us and allow us to perform our pastoral and charitable activities for the 20,000 people of this community,” the clergyman explained. “Both Catholics and non-Catholics need the Redemptorists.” “Our prayers are meant to express our gratitude to God,” Fr Nguyen noted. “Suffering and persecution help us see the truth. When we endure injustice, we can deal with them by loving our neighbours more.” “We are all here,” he added, “to pray for Thai Ha Parish, committed to the dangerous task of seeking justice and truth.” Thousands of candles illuminate the opening of the Jubilee of the Vietnamese Church The ceremony on the day the Church commemorates the 117 Vietnamese martyrs canonized by Pope John Paul II.

– radiovatican

Another Vietnamese Catholic human rights advocate on trial

June 10, 2011 by  
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Peter Pham Minh Hoang, VietnamPeter Pham Minh Hoang, professor at the University of Ho Chi Minh City is accused of activities aimed at overthrowing the government and of joining a democracy group. His arrest has caused concern and protests worldwide. Fears that the sentence has been decided before the start of the trial.

Ho Chi Minh City: The Vietnamese authorities are preparing to try another Catholic human rights advocate. On 14 June, in fact, Peter Pham Minh Hoang (pictured), professor at the University of Ho Chi Minh City will be brought to court. In the words of his wife, he was concerned over social injustice and corruption.

The professor has been held in prison in an undisclosed location since August 13, 2010, under Article. 79 of the Vietnamese Penal Code on charges of participating in a banned political group. Even before the arrest, the authorities had threatened to jail him unless he admitted to joining the group called Democracy for Viet Tan (New Vietnam). Article. 79 of the Criminal Code condemns activities aimed at overthrowing the government.

Professor Hoang is known for his dedication in educating the young. He is said to have given active support to the protests against the mining of bauxite in the Central Highlands and has participated in a conference organized by the archdiocese of Saigon, which discussed the issue of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos. His wife reports that the police are also investigating the courses that he offered to his students.

Vietnamese Catholics see in the arrest and detention of Professor Hoang, who is also a French citizen, a direct consequence of his commitment to defending human rights and territorial integrity of the country, in the context of a growing number of attacks against human rights defenders. All protests have proven useless, even at the international level by some groups, including the Committee of Concerned Scientists, against the illegal detention of Hoang, to whom family members report a worsening of the professor’s physical and mental condition in the prison.

His family and his friends and colleagues defend his innocence and pledge to help in the next trial knowing that, like other defenders of democracy, in all probability the sentence has been written before the trial has even begun.

– Philip Blair (AsiaNews)

Vietnam unleashes wave of repression against Hmong Christians, at least 49 dead

May 1, 2011 by  
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Vietnam unleashes wave of repression against Hmong Christians, at least 49 dead

Vietnam unleashes wave of repression against Hmong Christians, at least 49 dead

AsiaNews) – At least 49 dead, hundreds injured and an unspecified number of arrests: this is the toll from a wave of bloody repression unleashed by the security forces against the Vietnamese Christians and animists, from the Hmong community, a ethnic minority that lives in the northwest of the country and in Laos.
The episode began April 30, at Muong Nhe, Dien Bien province, where about 8,500 Hmong gathered to pray and ask for reforms and religious freedom. The event was interrupted by a violent intervention of the People’s Army and security forces, who killed and wounded believers and made hundreds of arrests, deporting many of the detainees to undisclosed locations in Vietnam and Laos where, according to Christy Lee, Executive Director of Hmong Advance, Inc. (HAI) in Washington, DC, “they could have been tortured or killed, or simplify disappeared”. All electricity and communications with the area have been cut.
Among those arrested are some extraordinary Eucharistic ministers who serve the four Catholic communities of the region. In the area there are a thousand registered Catholics, who pray to God with discretion in what is called “white zone” in which the level of violation of religious freedom is the highest in the country. And there are Christians who have emigrated to keep the faith. Until now, Catholic priests have only been able to go twice to Muong Nhe, posing as tourists and were under continuous surveillance and followed by police officers who controlled their every move to prevent any attempt at evangelization.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Information and army officers, through the official VNA, accuse the protesters of being irredentists operating at the instigation of “reactionaries who cheat the popular credulity spreading rumours about the presence of a supernatural power and calling for a separate empire of the Hmong people. ” Hanoi has tried to close the area and drive the population from the mountains and jungle.
The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi has stated that it will investigate the incident, which occurred just two days after the report of the Commission on International Religious Freedom which asked the State Department to put Vietnam on the list of countries of “particular concern for the respect of religious freedom.”