VIETNAM Christian lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton are both still in custody in Hanoi since their arrests in December 2015 and July 2017 respectively – because they have called for greater religious freedom. They have been barred from meeting their lawyers.
Last month, Christian activist Maria Tran Thị Nga, a mother of two young children from Ha Nam province, was found guilty of ‘propaganda against the state’ and sentenced to nine years in prison and five years under house arrest. Her harsh sentence and irregularities relating to her trial have prompted an international outcry.
Christian bloggers have also been targeted: last week, a court in Nghe An province upheld a five-year prison sentence against Nguyen Van Oai for his pro-democracy campaigns.
- Thank God for the way that relations between the Government in Hanoi and religious groups have improved slightly in recent years. Pray that the new law will not threaten this progress.
- Pray that God will use His people who have spoken out about religious rights and about Him to draw many in Vietnam into a close personal relationship with Him.
– Nationalist gangs terrorise Christian community
Gangs of nationalist youths have terrorised a Christian community in Song Ngoc, north-east Vietnam, attacking a church and homes and targeting Christian business owners. Local Christian leaders have appealed to the authorities to act, noting that “we see that the attacks have been carried out in an orchestrated manner, and the police know well what is occurring, but are ignoring what is going on”. The acts of intimidation and violence have taken place throughout June. Some of the perpetrators have called for the expulsion of two church leaders who are helping impoverished local fisherman in a legal case against the government following a marine pollution disaster in April last year (2016).
Vietnam’s communist government ruthlessly cracks down on dissent and Christians are viewed as enemies of the one-party state. All churches are required to be officially registered with the authorities. In November 2016, the government passed a new religion law which was hailed by state media as guaranteeing religious freedom, although the vague legislation banning any religious activity that could “harm social order and/or national unity” seems likely to give authorities leeway to crack down on religious freedom, where it is deemed against the interests of the state.
From UCA news here