Persecution in Vietnam
"If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.... If they persecuted Me they will persecute you... for they do not know the One who sent Me." John 15:19-2
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November 2004: Vietnam - Attack on Mennonites Highlights Religious Persecution: "The Vietnamese government bans independent religious associations and only permits religious activities by officially-recognized churches and organizations whose governing boards are approved and controlled by government. The Mennonite Church is not officially sanctioned by the government. 'Bulldozing a Mennonite chapel is just one aspect of the Vietnamese government's crackdown on freedom of religion,' said Brad Adams.... 'Whether through legislation or through violence, the government has shown it is increasingly unwilling to tolerate religious practice outside its strict control.'" John 15:20-21
August 2004: Distress, Harassment continue for Vietnam's Montagnards: "Government authorities continue to apply unrelenting pressure on tribal Christians in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The most recent phase of the long-standing conflict commenced in April 2004, when thousands of Montagnards joined protests against the confiscation of tribal lands and the severe repression of the Christian faith. The government subsequently sent a special 'peace corps'to the poverty-stricken region. But the corps really serves as 'spies and guards.'... After its arrival, eight men in Dak Lak province were arrested and severely beaten. Church sources report that eight men were killed in Gia Lai province....” John 15:20-21
July 2004: Vietnamese Trying To Wipe Out Hmong Christians: "One Hmong listener [to Far East Broadcasting] in Vietnam sent a cassette with this message: '...At this time, we don't know why our government has sent soldiers and policemen to guard all of the Christian villages.... They watch every one of us very closely. We cannot hold Church meetings any more. These officials have also come to check every Christian home and check for Bibles, hymnbooks and other literature. If they find anything, it will be burnt....
"If homes are not found with evil spirit signs, that household will be penalized. ...Christian families are put in jail with no questions asked. Government officials putting poison into sugar and distributing the food to Christian who eat and died. Christianity must wipe out by the end of December 2002." Romans 8:26-27
April2004: Human Rights Group Condemns Vietnam for Treatment of Montagnards : "Human Rights Watch says police use electric truncheons, tear gas, and water cannons to disperse thousands of Christian tribes people as they protested religious persecution and the confiscation of their ancestral lands....some of the protesters - known as Montagnards - were beaten and killed during the demonstrations. Others are reported missing.... The Vietnamese government has closed the region to international observers and diplomats." See next link:
"Pray for the families of those killed as well as for many in fear for their lives." Romans 8:26
December 2003:Christmas crackdown commences (Vietnam): "...harassment, beatings, torture and killings are reported in the lead up to Christmas 2003 as Vietnamese communist authorities intensify the crackdown against Montagnard (Degar) Christians in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
“'...virtually every single village now has secret police stationed there who intimidate and arrest Christians and refugees who try fleeing to Cambodia,' said a spokesman for the Montagnard Foundation."
354 Churches Closed in Dak Lak Province -- November, 2002
With heavy heart I send this. May His Grace be sufficient for these who have suffered so much, and now are facing even more difficult days ahead. PRAY! May the Lord stand by them, and uphold them during these very critical times.
Information has been pouring out of Vietnam about a recent wave of government repression against Montagnard Evangelicals in Vietnam's Central Highlands. Documents acquired up by religious human rights workers in Vietnam in October and correspondence which has come out in recent days, confirm that by the end of September, 354 of 412 churches had been forcibly disbanded and closed in Dak Lak Province alone. By Mid-October some 50 Christian pastors and elders in this province, had been arrested or "disappeared". Many others were missing as well, but their names were unavailable. The campaign was continuing to close the remaining 58 churches in the province.
Reports from the affected churches reveal a pattern. Beginning in the late summer, leaders of the predominantly Ede minority churches, were summoned by local authorities, told their churches were illegal, and ordered to disband their church organizations. Many were threatened with dire consequences if they did not comply. In addition church leaders were specifically prohibited from any further religious activity outside their own home with their own family. All communal activities of the churches - worship, teaching, prayer for the sick, observing holy days, administering sacraments, performing baptisms, weddings, and conducting funerals were forbidden. Leaders were forced to sign statements of compliance.
Montagnard churches ("Montagnard" means "mountain people" and is a collective name for Vietnam's many minority tribal groups inhabiting the Central Highlands) were historically part of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South). Last year, 26 years after the country was reunified under communism, the ECVN (S) was granted legal recognition. However, only a handful of the many hundreds of Montagnard churches were allowed to identify with the ECVN (S). Though there were frequent problems and many restrictions, authorities had reluctantly tolerated the existence of Montagnard churches for nearly 20 years, until February of 2001 that is. At this time several thousand Montagnards surprised local authorities by demonstrating against the illegal loss of their lands to ethnic Vietnamese settlers, and against the lack of religious freedom.
Waves of heavy-handed crackdowns followed. There were brutal campaigns to force people to give up Christianity, and to sign documents agreeing to give up the faith. Many fled this official terrorism and went into the forest or to Cambodia. However, this latest move against churches in Dak Lak is the severest persecution since 1975 when all churches were closed and all church leaders put in re-education camp for some six years.
The ECVN (S), which has usually been very cautious about speaking out against abuses, went public this time. The ECVN (S) President, the Rev. Duong Thanh, has written a frank and detailed letter to the Prime Minister and to other relevant government agencies. It describes the persecution, and points out how government actions are contrary to the constitution and to specific promises made by the Bureau of Religious Affairs, and has been posted on a website. The constitutional provision for religious freedom and the promises of the Bureau are quoted in the letter, along with a warning that it will impossible to contain this news in Vietnam. The letter concludes by asking the Prime Minister and competent government bodies for immediate redress.
Earlier complaints, addressed to local authorities by the legally recognized provincial committee of the ECVN (S), resulted in increased pressure and persecution. Authorities seize church leaders at will, and take them to unknown destinations. They confiscate church furniture, Christian books and Bibles, musical instruments and seal or use for other purposes the simple chapels where Christians met. They have entered chapels while Christians were worshipping, seized the microphone and harangued Christians to give up their faith. Local Dak Lak television is reported by many to have broadcast "Ceremonies of Voluntarily Renouncing Christianity" and have shown pictures of Christians "voluntarily" giving their Bibles and songbooks to be burned.
A recent visitor to the area said: "All the Christians I met greeted me with tears, asked me to pray with them and then hurried me on my way lest something untoward happen to me. Even some sympathetic government officials received me with tears, recognizing the overwhelming sadness of what is happening."
He concluded: "Many of the churches in Vietnam are praying night and day for this 'national tragedy'. Please pass this sad news to churches overseas as well so that they may participate in earnest prayer, beseeching the Lord to deliver us from this distress. There are many other heart-rending stories which I cannot tell you now."
On November 7, Freedom House released news to the ongoing persecution of Hmong Christians in Vietnam's northwest provinces, including the story and photo of a 36-year-old Hmong Christian man who had died from beatings by police and official, because he was a believer. Also, Vietnam's cautious Roman Catholic Conference of Bishops has recently released a letter decrying the persecution of Catholic Montagnards.
The United State Commission on International Religion Freedom in September recommended that the US State Department name Vietnam as a "country of particular concern" - the worst category for abusers of religious freedom. Yet, even seasoned observers of the religious liberty abuses in communist Vietnam are surprised at this latest ferocity in the persecution of Christians. "Besides visiting gratuitous suffering on innocent people, Vietnam is badly hurting itself in the eyes of the international community" said one long time observer.
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