Published: 15:00 GMT Standard Time - Monday 21 November 2011
Violent gang attack on unregistered house church in Vietnam
Country/Region: Vietnam, South and East Asia
Twelve Christians were seriously injured and the pastor threatened with death during a violent gang attack on an unregistered house church in Vietnam.
The raid on the meeting at the home of Pastor Nguyen Danh Chau in Hanoi took place at 9.30am on 13 November.
Five men, four women and three teenage children were injured, and the pastor was beaten unconscious. He was left with severe chest, stomach and head pain, and the gang threatened to kill him if he continues to organise house church meetings. One of the women, Nguyen Thi Lan, was left unable to walk after receiving blows to the stomach and groin.
The gang smashed property belonging to church members, stole parts from motorbikes and destroyed Pastor Danh Chau’s family fruit trees and vegetable plot.
During the raid, gang members ran outside and tried to implicate “the Christian pastors” in the attack, shouting that they were the ones “savagely beating people up”.
The targeted church is part of an unregistered house church denomination, founded in 2007, that has over 2,000 members; they meet in over 35 congregations in and around the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.
The raid follows two attacks on a house church in Quang Nam province that belongs to a recognised denomination. A gang of 20 thugs threatened to destroy the church and kill all of the members.
It is thought that the Vietnamese authorities sometimes employ gangs to carry out attacks on churches. The perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.
In Vietnam, all churches must be registered with the government. Unregistered churches face frequent harassment from the authorities; security officials break up church meetings and Bible training classes, confiscate religious literature and threaten Christians with arrest.
Registered churches suffer less intrusion from the government, although they are subject to strict state controls.