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Vietnam

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Hill-tribe Christians in the Central Highlands are especially at risk of state persecution
CC BY-SA 3.0 / DXLINH

On 4 October 2013, various religious groups in Vietnam, including major Christian denominations, issued a joint statement saying that their government was attempting to destroy religions in the country “using both force and administrative measures”.

Plenty of recent incidents substantiate the strength of their argument. On 4 September 2013, police used live ammunition, grenades and electric batons to crush a protest by hundreds of Christians calling for the release of two church members who had been detained for over two months without charge. The pair were subsequently jailed on spurious charges of “disturbing public order”.

Hundreds of Christians are incarcerated in Vietnam’s harsh prison system, where they are subjected to beatings, abuse and torture. Church leader Vam Ngaij Vaj died in police custody in March 2013. His body showed signs of electrocution; police claimed that he committed suicide.

Vietnam is a one-party Communist state that regards Christianity as a Western religion and thus a threat. Religious practice is strictly controlled, and churches are required to register with the authorities. But at the beginning of 2013, new rules came into force that increased restrictions and made it almost impossible for unregistered groups to obtain legal status. Christian lawyer Nguyen Van Dai said Decree 92 “is intended to provide the tools to end the house-church movement entirely”.

Because their activities are illegal, those who belong to unregistered churches are particularly vulnerable to harassment, arrests and imprisonment. But registered churches are regulated and controlled, and their legal protections are vague and uncertain. Christians may be penalised for offences such as “attempting to undermine national unity” by promoting “division between religious believers and non-believers”.

The authorities are particularly hostile to hill-tribe Christians in the Central Highlands and frequently subject them to discrimination, intimidation and violence.

As well as state opposition, Vietnamese Christians, who comprise nine per cent of the population, face aggression from their neighbours. In one case in early 2013, five Christian families were forced to flee their village after their homes and farms were destroyed by local animists.  

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    • Almighty God, we call to You for relief for Christians in the Gwoza area of Borno state in Northern Nigeria, as they face repeated violent attacks by Boko Haram militants. We pray for comfort for the relatives and friends of the hundreds who have been killed, and for the thousands who have been forced from their homes and seen them torched. We ask for Your special protection on Christians as they gather to worship You. We pray for the Nigerian authorities to re-establish control of the area, so that the displaced Christians may be safe from further attacks and free to rebuild their shattered communities. We pray too for their persecutors to come to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 18 hours ago

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    • Pray for Bible school students in Vietnam who were subjected to a terrifying night-time raid by police and hired thugs. On 9 June, officers swooped from adjacent rooftops into the church compound that houses the school, while vehicle-loads of people were brought to the site to vandalise the building with bricks, stones and sticks. The students were beaten, punched and kicked before being taken away for interrogation; 20 were left in need of medical attention but were prevented from leaving to find it. Thugs continued to attack the compound over the next ten nights. Pray for the students as they recover from this brutal assault and that they will stand firm in their faith in the face of intimidation. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Aug 2014 00:00

    • In an earlier incident in Saisomboon village, three teenage Christian girls were disqualified from taking their final school examinations because of their faith. The village chief said that in following Christianity, Noi (15), Net (15) and Nut (14) had forfeited their right to education. Five families from the village have now converted to Christianity. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom expressed the view that the authorities were trying to find every possible way “to stop the spread of Christian religious freedom in the area”. Pray that the girls will be allowed to complete their education and that opposition to the Christians in the village will cease. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Aug 2014 00:00

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