Pastor in Vietnam Tortured "Like Christ on the Cross"

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Believers in Kontum Province Targeted by Anti-Christian Campaign
Special to Compass Direct

LOS ANGELES (Compass) -- Authorities in Vietnam’s Kontum province have found a way to add cruel symbolism to their unwarranted persecution of Christians.

When Pastor A En of the Chu Pa Evangelical Church answered a summons to appear before local security police on August 20, he was forced to stand “like Christ was hung on the cross,” with arms outstretched, but on one foot only. A En was forced to hold that position from 8 until 11 a.m. When he moved or put down his other foot, he was taunted, punched and kicked.

When the police finally released A En, he crumpled to the ground, unable to move. An elder of his church had to carry him out of the police station. Pastor A En’s church of 70 members was disbanded and does not dare meet together for worship.

Most of the reports of oppression of Vietnam’s minorities in the Central Highlands has focussed on the large provinces of Dak Lak and Gai Lai. However, reports from the smaller, more remote province of Kontum, which borders Cambodia and Laos, indicate that Christians there have not been spared.

Several incidents reported by indigenous Christian workers earlier this year have just come to light. Evangelist A Yen was summoned to the police station in Dak Rim Commune and ordered to give up his faith and his pastoral activities. They told him if he would not cooperate, they would use “another method.”

When A Yen resolutely refused, they muttered that he was a “very hard-headed boy” and pretended to let him go. As he was walking out of the door, a policeman named A Hoai was waiting for him with a thick stick. The policeman batted A Yen viciously across the knees three times. When he fell to the ground, officers pounced on his leg, opening a deep wound which bled profusely.

Alarmed at the large amount of blood, police released A Yen, who fled to the home of a colleague in the next province of Quang Ngai. He recovered there before daring to return to his home in Kontum.

In separate incidents, two evangelists who returned last February to Sa Thay District in Kontum from a Bible study seminar in the south were summoned by the public security police of their respective communes. Evangelist Ksor Lui was hit in the face repeatedly by police, who questioned what he had studied. Ksor Lui was ordered not to leave his home to propagate his faith.

Evangelist Ksor Lor was hit on the head so hard that he was unconscious for several minutes. Officials forbade him to gather any Christians for public worship. Neither man can now hold church services, but they courageously meet to instruct Christians in cells of a family or two.

Compass received the report on Pastor A En from a source in Vietnam who managed to bypass Vietnam’s censors and send out an e-mail with related photos. A portion of the source’s compelling appeal, written in late August and translated from Vietnamese, follows.

“Dear Sirs,

“I am sending herewith photos concerning Christian Montagnards who have been savagely persecuted by Vietnamese communist authorities. Many have been beaten and jailed. Others must abandon their homes out of fear. Wives and children flee to the forest for safety.

“Please do not forget the Montagnard Christians, who are of the same blood as we. Please join hands with us and send this to the media -- journalists and TV networks -- and to human rights groups and representatives of the people of conscience around the world.

“The Montagnard Christians -- what crime have they done to warrant such gratuitous suffering? Their only crime is to believe in God and to meet with others to worship Him.”

“Do communists have a conscience? The Montagnard Christians -- what crime have they done to warrant such gratuitous suffering? Their only crime is to believe in God and to meet with others to worship Him. Government officials refuse to grant permission for this.

“But why should people have to ask permission for what is freely allowed in most of the world where individual and communal rights are respected? Why in Vietnam do people have to beg their government to do honorable and worthy things? If Christians don’t ask permission, and go ahead and worship anyway, they are treated as criminals. The public security police threaten them as if they were hardened criminals. Why? Why?

“The kind of ‘freedom’ the communists brag about falls a million times short of the freedom in many other countries of the world. It is ‘communist freedom.’ Did Ho Chi Minh -- and does the Communist Party today -- really hold to such freedom?

“It is impossible to know how much blood and how many bones were sacrificed to liberate our people. But what is the result of this ‘liberation?’ The people of Vietnam are only bound in the freedom of the communist variety. If you compare the meaning of freedom in most countries of the world with the freedom of Vietnam, they are different beyond imagination. In our kind of freedom, the very essence of real freedom is missing.

“Vietnamese authorities are fond of bragging that our people are much freer than most other people in the world. But you must understand that communist freedom is the inverse of real freedom.”