Vietnam Christian Dies After Torture For Refusing To Recant Faith, reports

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center

HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- A young Hroi ethnic minority man who refused to recant his Christian faith reportedly died from injuries received while under official interrogation, BosNewsLife monitored Tuesday, July 3.

Compass Direct News, a Christian news agency, said Vin Y Het, in his early 20s, died April 20, but details only emerged in recent days. He apparently leaves behind a pregnant wife and two small children.

Het, from Son Hoa district in the costal province of Phu Yen, allegedly died from internal injuries after interrogators beat him several months earlier for refusing to deny his Christian faith. It was not immediately clear which law enforcement agency was involved in the incident, but local police often play a key role in reported attacks.

After becoming a Christian in September 2006, local authorities summoned him to their offices and pressured him to sign a document denying his faith, Compass Direct News reported, citing sources in the region. When he refused, "they had him savagely beaten," the news agency said.


The young Hroi man, who suffered from severe swellings in various parts of his body, was reportedly threatened with further abuse "or worse" unless he recanted.

Het apparently reported what had happened to him to the Rev. Dinh Thong, long-time pastor of the Tuy Hoa City church in Phu Yen Province , and chief provincial representative of the legally-recognized Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South), or ECVN (S).

Rev. Thong wrote a letter to provincial authorities describing the abuse and asking for an investigation. However the brief “investigation” reportedly only yielded a paper signed by Het saying that he had not been beaten and investigators accused Rev. Thong of making a false report.

Under international pressure Vietnamese authorities previously investigated such deaths, but church sources say these investigations produced "only cover-ups" while no perpetrators have ever been prosecuted.


This was no isolated incident. Several jailed Degar-Montagnard Christians have also died behind bars or shortly after their release following alleged periods of torture and abuse, BosNewsLife established.

News of the latest death of a Christian came amid concerns over the whereabouts of the president of the ECVN (N), Rev. Phung Quang Huyen, who was expected to accompany Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet during his visit to the United States last month.

One of his colleagues in Hanoi apparently reported to friends in the US that Rev. Huyen had been secretly invited to accompany the country’s president as the only religious representative.

He was reportedly not present at a meeting with evangelical pastors in Washington on June 21. Pastors were confused when Rev. Huyen had gone to China with Vietnam ’s Bureau of Religious Affairs at the same time the presidential delegation left for the United States, Compass Direct News said.


Rev. Huyen has extensive knowledge of the difficulties faced by ethnic minority Christians in Vietnam ’s northwest provinces. Despite pressure from US lawmakers and President George W. Bush, Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet said June 22 that his country does not need to improve its human rights record.

"It's not a question of improving or not," Triet said in an interview with The Associated Press, news agency hours after meeting with Bush. "Vietnam has its own legal framework, and those who violate the law will be handled."

The United States has been criticized for removing Communist-run Vietnam from its list of 'Countries Of Particular Concern' regarding religious rights violations. Vietnam has denied human rights abuses on a large scale, and has accused rights organizations of spreading propaganda. (With reports from Vietnam and the United States).

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