Seven Degar Montagnard Christians Detained In Vietnam Crackdown

Thursday, October 2, 2008

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- Seven Degar Montagnard Christians are among those being held in a Vietnamese prison after they were detained as part of a major government backed crackdown on 'illegal' house churches in Vietnam's Central Highlands, their friends said.

Among those arrested is 41-year-old church leader Pinh who was taken from his home in the village of H’Luk in the province of Gia Lai on August 10 this year, said the Montagnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI) which has close contacts with relatives of the believers.

"Upon their arrival to the police station the security police force punched Pinh in the head trying to intimidate him," MFI told BosNewsLife. "They informed him that he was being arrested for illegally conducting worship services every Sunday in his home."

Seven days later six other Christians were arrested in Gia Lai province, MFI said. The believers from the village of Ploi H'Luk were identified only as Cum, 28, Blui, 33, Lich, 43, Bunh, 43, Bik, 41, and Glinh, whose age is unknown.

MFI said it was concerned about the situation of the detained Christians as "no criminal charges have been made and no due process has been given." The group has said the Vietnamese authorities have stepped up efforts to arrest Christian leaders and other believers who refuse to join the Communist government's backed churches.


As part of the crackdown, "It has been reported that many of those that were arrested were forced to sign documents renouncing their faith. Others were poisoned by way of food and water with an unknown substance that causes mental anguish and psychosis and death," MFI said.

"All of these symptoms have been reported as being untreatable by local Catholic medical clinics. Many of these individuals would later die in public hospitals."

There was no response from authorities, however the Vietnamese government has in the past strongly denied MFI reports, calling them Western propaganda. Several rights groups, including also Amnesty International, have however expressed concerns about the treatment of Degar Montagnards, a mainly Christian mountain tribe.

MFI says they have been targeted for giving support to American forces during the Vietnam War as well as their active involvement in Christianity.

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