Wednesday, August 17, 2011

121. Vietnam: State repressing Christians violently

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 121 | Wed 17 Aug 2011

VIETNAM: STATE REPRESSING CHRISTIANS VIOLENTLY

By Elizabeth Kendal

The Montagnard / Degar people are the indigenous inhabitants of Vietnam's Central Highlands. After the French left Indochina in 1955, the Vietnamese authorities -- who demean the Montagnards as 'Moi' (savages) -- sought to seize, colonise and exploit the Montagnard's resource-rich lands. During the Second Indochina War, the Montagnards fought alongside the Americans in a struggle for human rights and autonomy. Under the Communists, religious freedom has become a major issue. Predominantly Protestant, the Montagnards are resisting government efforts to force them into Communist Party-controlled, State-sanctioned organisations. The Communist authorities, fighting everything they cannot control, accuse the church of being a front for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and for 'reactionary', 'evil' and 'separatist' forces.

In March 2011, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a most significant report,
'Montagnard Christians in Vietnam: A Case Study in Religious Repression'. Repression and violent persecution are escalating, according to HRW. More than 70 Montagnards were detained or arrested in 2010 alone and over 250 are known to be imprisoned on national security charges. Furthermore, at least 25 Montagnards have died from beatings, torture or illness while in custody.

The HRW report states that mobile police units have been patrolling the Central Highlands, harassing the people and forcing them to renounce 'Dega Protestantism' publicly. In just one of dozens of cases cited by HRW, the provincial Gia Lai government-run newspaper, Bao Gia Lai, reported in October 2010 that 567 households affiliated with 'Dega Protestantism' in the Krong Pa district were renouncing the religion. Furthermore, the commune chief was making daily visits to pressure 15 more households to abandon the faith.

The Montagnard Foundation reports that on 7 July 2011, Vietnamese security forces and police surrounded the village of Buon Kret Krot in Gia Lai Province while the villagers were attending a Christian evening prayer service. At the appointed time, the authorities charged and violently assaulted the believers. Twelve men and four women were beaten severely, whilst others were detained and tortured. Of those who were beaten, 12 were left unconscious. Ten of them were young men aged 19-29, one was a 53-year-old woman and the other was a 15-year-old girl. Victims of other extreme police brutality included girls and boys aged from 13 to 16. The villagers have been warned that if they continue to worship independently of Communist control they will all go to prison.

Meanwhile, repression and persecution continue to escalate too in the lowland cities, mostly against Vietnamese Catholics who include lawyers, bloggers, human rights activists and priests. Catholics in Vinh City, south Vietnam, recently took to the streets to protest the government's refusal to return confiscated land to Cau Ram parish. Furthermore, eight devoutly Catholic university students and young laymen have been arrested recently without cause, their whereabouts unknown. Candlelight vigils for the Catholic detainees have been held in Vinh Diocese.

PLEASE PRAY THAT GOD WILL --

* comfort and heal all his people who are suffering physically, materially, emotionally and spiritually due to violent persecution by the Vietnamese Communist authorities.

* bring to those who persecute his children a revulsion against violence and a conviction of sin, so that the extreme violence and appalling injustices and betrayals might cease, praying especially for Vietnam's new ceremonial president Truong Tan Sang (62), elected by the parliament on 25 July and for the more powerful Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung.

* bring many Vietnamese Communist officials -- police, bureaucrats and ideologues -- to faith in Jesus Christ; may the Church in Vietnam be able to rejoice, as did the Churches of Syria and Cilicia, saying, 'He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.' (Galatians 1:23 ESV)

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SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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VIETNAM REPRESSING CHRISTIANS VIOLENTLY

The Montagnard / Degar people are the indigenous inhabitants of Vietnam's Central Highlands. The Vietnamese Communists covet their resource-rich lands and persecute them on ethnic and religious grounds. Predominantly Protestant, the Montagnards are resisting government efforts to force them into Communist Party-controlled, State-sanctioned organisations. The Communists accuse the 'Dega Protestant' church of being a front for the US Central Intelligence Agency and 'reactionary', 'evil' and 'separatist' forces. Human Rights Watch reports that persecution has been escalating since mid-2010. Mobile police units are running large-scale operations forcing 'Dega Protestants' to renounce their faith. Police brutality and torture have long been an issue. Severe repression has been mounting too in the lowland cities, mostly against Vietnamese Catholics. Please pray that God will intervene for his Church in Vietnam.

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