05 Desember 2011

VIETNAM: Church leader beaten in a gang attack 22/11/2011

VIETNAM: Church leader beaten in a gang attack  22/11/2011

Reports of recent gang attacks on house churches tell of severe beatings, which left twelve people seriously injured and the church leader threatened with death. CSW is concerned that perpetrators of local attacks on Vietnamese Christians are rarely prosecuted.

House church violently attacked

On 13 November, leaders of an unregistered house church were violently attacked, leaving twelve people seriously injured. The gang also threatened to kill the pastor if he continued to organise church meetings. The Agape Baptist Church, just outside Hanoi, is part of an unregistered house church denomination. As neither church nor denomination is registered there is no automatic access to legal protection.  Despite improvements in religious freedom over recent years, attacks on churches still occur and are not uncommon.  It is thought that local police and security officials sometimes employ gangs to undertake the attacks and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.
In September, a registered house church belonging to the Vietnam Baptist church was similarly attacked, twice by twenty thugs. Responding to these attacks, CSW’s Advocacy director highlighted that the meeting of the registered church “is protected by Vietnamese legislation” and he called for “concrete protection for those whose religious freedom is violated.”

Faster registration needed for Vietnamese churches

An area of difficulty for Vietnam’s churches is the registration system. Technically, all churches, whether they belong to recognised denominations or not, should be able to register their meeting places with the local authorities. The benefits of registering are that groups are less likely to be accused of holding “illegal meetings”. However, CSW’s research over the past few years has shown that the registration system has slowed, and in some areas come to a complete halt. There is a huge backlog of applications that have not been processed. This backlog especially affects Christians from ethnic minorities and unregistered denominations. CSW is calling for the registration system to be implemented broadly and fairly to enable the protections enshrined in Vietnamese law to be available for everyone.

CSW lobbies for EU action on behalf of Vietnamese Christians

This autumn, CSW has been lobbying for EU action to exert pressure on Vietnam for change. In 2011, we have reported that in several cases, Vietnamese Christians have been accused of separatist activity. CSW believes that these accusations were made in order to clamp down on church activity, especially when the churches were deemed successful in attracting new converts. This is in addition to reports of gang attacks on churches with impunity. CSW is lobbying for action to guarantee the right to freedom of movement for ethnic minority Protestants and ensure that they are protected from harassment and persecution at the local level.

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