By BosNewsLife News Center
HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- Three small children in Vietnam’s Central Highlands were without caring adults Saturday, June 10, nearly three weeks after their mother and mother-in-law were arrested for refusing to join the official church which they claim worships a Communist leader instead of Jesus Christ, friends said.
On May 23, 2006 a Vietnamese police officer allegedly detained Rahlan H’Riem and her mother- in-law Nay H’Brek and imprisoned them at Krong Pa District prison because they refused to join the official government recognized Church headed by Siu Kim. They claim the church worships late [Communist leader] Ho Chi Minh.
Local Christians have said that since February the Communist government had tried to force people to attend the official church, built for the Degar Montagnard people at Plei Batel of Ia Hru commune in the Cu Se district of Gialai province.
Believers have complained they did not see a picture of Jesus, or Mary or the cross at the Church ceremony. "They were also told they are not allowed to place a cross on graves of their relatives, but only flowers. The authorities told the Degar Montegnard Christians that anyone who places a cross on a grave will be arrested, " the advocacy group Montegnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI) said earlier.
Three boys, Rahlan H’Huong, 11, Rahlan Khuong, 8, and Rahlan Cin, 5, are now abandoned without adults to look after them, as their father, 29-year old Nai Phoan, fled to the United States in an apparent attempt to prepare possible resettlement for his persecuted family, MFI added.
MFI said this was not an isolated incident as "Vietnamese police from Krong Pa district in Tran The Chanh, summoned and interrogated Rahlan H’Riem" six times since last year. The first three occassions were on November 4, November 15 and November 16 of 2005.
Rahlan H’Riem was told that "she must stop worshiping God and follow Siu Kim and his church or she will put in prison." She reportedly refused saying she will not follow Siu Kim or his church because "it is not the matter of Siu Kim or his church." She said she wanted to follow "The Lord God and her Savior Jesus Christ" as "without the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the religion is in vain," according to a statement obtained by BosNewsLife.
She was later again summoned to explain her faith on March 8, March 9 and May 23 of 2006. "Because of her refusal, Lt. Colonel Le Hoang Phong arrested Rahlan H’Riem and her mother in law Nai H’Brek and put them in prison at the district of Krong Pa ever since. The three children are on their own without adults to care for them and cry for their mother and grandmother," MFI claimed.
It said it has urged the international community to intervene as well as for the estimated 350 other Degar Montagnard prisoners. Of the roughly 1-million Degar Montagnard people, close to half are Protestant, while around 200,000 are Catholic, according to estimates. Vietnamese authorities have denied any wrongdoing. They have however accused the Degar Montagnards of following "a Western religion" and supporting the US during the Vietnam War, rights groups say. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from Vietnam).
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