Vietnam: Pastors interrogated over false accusation they started COVID-19 outbreak

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - A pastoral couple and 11 members of their church have been interrogated by Vietnamese police officials in regard to false accusations that the Christians maliciously started a significant COVID-19 outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City in May, Morning Star News (MSN) reports. Local Christian leaders believe the interrogation and accusations are part of an effort to defame and shame Vietnamese evangelicals.

Rev Vo Xuan Loan, her husband Rev. Phuong Van Tan, of the independent house church Revival Ekklesia Mission (REM), and their 11 parishioners were interrogated by police on October 14, MSN said. The questioning pertained to COVID-19 infections traced to the church in May.

The questioning was carried out under criminal code’s Article 240 against “spreading a dangerous contagious disease to cause harm,” MSN said.

The pastors and congregation assert they meticulously kept all the pandemic regulations on quarantining and reporting infections.

However, state media falsely accused the church of being responsible for a significant outbreak of coronavirus in Ho Chi Minh City, and the government has proceeded with a criminal investigation, MSN reports. Vietnam ranks 19 on the US Open Doors 2021 World Watch List of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.

In what MSN described as an “unusual” gesture of support for REM churches, on October 2, the US Consul of Ho Chi Minh City, Geatan W. Damberg-Ott, visited the church and home of pastors Loan and Tan to inquire after their wellbeing. According to the pastors, the official said in parting: “On behalf of the US Consulate, I wish you good health and sincerely hope that you and your congregation will overcome every hardship in the days ahead.”