Vietnamese Pastor's Letter A Plea For Help

Thursday, June 14, 2001

Special to Compass Direct

LOS ANGELES, June 14 (Compass) -- The letter below -- the cry of a frustrated and persecuted Vietnamese Mennonite pastor named Nguyen Hong Quang -- is an appeal for religious freedom in Vietnam and for support from the international Christian community.

The Rev. Quang, trained as a lawyer, has been meticulous in his efforts to get the government to be consistent with its own constitution. As you'll see below, his actions have brought only increased harassment. A similar situation exists for many of Vietnam's house church organizations.

This release is a departure from the style of our regular flash new releases, but we felt the letter warranted as much exposure as possible. The letter is used with the Rev. Quang's permission and encouragement. It has been translated into English from the original Vietnamese.

Reverend Nguyen Hong Quang
C5/1H Binh Khanh, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City
Telephone: (84-8) 741-5468
Cell Phone: 0913-692274

Vung Tau -- June 6, 2001

The Vietnamese Protestant Mennonite community is being regularly harassed by the Public Security Police of District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, who burst into our house while we are worshipping God.

In the first six months of 2001, this has happened four times.

Twice the Public Security Police have come into our meeting place and stopped the service, and written up charges against us, throwing most of our congregation into a state of crisis and fear.

1) On April 13, 2001, Good Friday, following a day of fasting and prayer, more than 100 Mennonite believers were gathered in a private home at C5/1H Binh Khanh, District 2. At 6:30 p.m., Public Security Police of District 2 burst illegally into our solemn service and stopped the observance of our District 2 Mennonite congregation's observance of our Lord's Passion. After that, the police and members of the Fatherland Front came in and wrote up charges and threatened those who had come to participate in the worship service. (I, the Rev. Quang, have a copy of these charges.)

2) On June 5, 2001, also at the address recorded above, 70 children from 7 to 13 years of age were meeting when Public Security Police of District 2 came in and stopped the proceedings. They carried video cameras and threatened the children, causing a major crisis for the 70 children of the Mennonite community. They also pressured the teachers and the wife of the Rev. Quang at this time when the Rev. Quang was away from the house on an errand. They wrote up charges, but using their authority as a ploy, they refused to give those charged a copy of the charges, but the teachers, when they were given the document to sign, managed to make a copy for themselves on the fax machine in the house.

As for me (the Rev. Quang), I have conclusive evidence that I have tried to realize the freedom of religion strictly according to the laws of Vietnam. However, Decree on Religion 26 (CP-1999) is the instrument by which the government officials of Vietnam hinder Protestant house churches. But I (Rev. Quang) rely on an application to carry on activities, which included our statement of faith, which I sent directly to the Government Bureau of Religious Affairs at 53 Trang Thi, Ha Noi. I have many times written petitions and letters challenging the charges of the Public Security Police, but government officials ignore them and do nothing to solve the issue. Indeed they continue to crack down on the Mennonite Protestant community and on me (Rev. Quang).

>> A petition was sent 7 De Duan, Ho Chi Minh City in 1999.

>> A long letter was sent in May 2000 to high government officials and to the Communist Party of Vietnam.

>> Our application, including our statement of beliefs, was sent in May 2000. The office director of the Government Bureau of Religious Affairs, Mr. Le Tien Thanh, received this in the offices of the Bureau in Ha Noi.

>> A letter of complaint was sent in April 2001. It was received by Mr. Hai at the police station in District 2.

I respectfully request that the evangelical Christian communities in Asia, and in the world, raise their voices and pray and protest the actions of the Public Security Police described above, which violate the laws of Vietnam, and violate the freedom of religion in Vietnam.

I appeal to associations of lawyers in the world to condemn the actions described above and also for the abuse of women (as in the case of Ms. Huong of Trang Dai, Bien Hoa, who for ten years running has been harassed and offended, whose family's peace has been shattered, all because Ms. Huong has a heart for teaching children and a desire to witness her Christian faith. Public Security Police come to stop even children's activities as in the case on June 5, 2001, in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, described above).

I call on the World Court to take notice of the crimes against Christian women by Public Security Police and government officials, and to take note of the serious violations of religious freedom in Vietnam.

Currently I am but one example of this injustice as I have been arrested many times for preaching the Gospel. I have a paper saying I should be expelled from my country, and have frequently been arrested and held in temporary detention.

My thanks in advance to fellow pastors and lawyers.


Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang

Copyright © 2001 Compass Direct News Service. Used with permission.