11 Christians sentenced to a combined 90 years in prison in Vietnam have disappeared

Eleven Vietnamese Christians, sentenced to a total of 90 years and eight months in prison for their religious activities, have mysteriously disappeared, raising serious concerns about the treatment of religious minorities in Vietnam. Those individuals, arrested between 2011 and 2016, include six Protestants and five Catholics, now unaccounted for in the Southeast Asian nation's prison system.

The six Protestants are associated with the unapproved Degar Protestantism and the five Catholics are from the Ha Mon Roman Catholic Church, said the American persecution watchdog International Christian Concern, noting that both religious movements lack official recognition by Vietnam's communist regime, which often targets such groups under accusations of “undermining national unity policy.”

Protestants Ro Mah Pla, Siu Hlom, Rmah Bloanh and Rmah Khil were specifically targeted for their involvement in Degar Protestantism.

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Meanwhile, Sung A. Khua faced arrest under the pretext of “deforestation” after refusing to renounce his faith, while Y. Hriam Kpa was detained for his refusal to close his church. The five Catholics – Runh, A. Kuin, A. Tik, Run and Dinh Kuh – faced similar charges for their involvement in Ha Mon Catholicism.

The Degar, also known as Montagnards, are an indigenous group in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, historically allied with the United States during the Vietnam War and known for their Christian faith.

Montagnard Christians are often forced to renounce their religion, facing harsh consequences such as beatings and imprisonment if they resist, according to the Campaign to End Torture in Vietnam.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reported continuous violations in Vietnam, including the destruction of homes and the expulsion of families like Sung A. Khua's, to suppress Christian activities.

In 2018, Vietnam enacted the Faith and Religion Law, which ostensibly regulates religious practices but has been criticized for its restrictive nature.

The USCIRF's 2019 assessment labeled the registration process for religious groups as “complicated and burdensome,” noting lengthy delays in app approvals. This legislation not only controls recognized religions but also pressures unrecognized groups to conform to state-approved practices, significantly impeding religious freedom.

US representative Glenn Grothman, in a 2022 statement, condemned the actions of the Vietnamese government, underscoring the need for international leadership in defending religious freedom. He drew attention to the lack of awareness among many Americans regarding the severe human rights abuses occurring under communist governments such as that of Vietnam.

The last one USCIRF annual report, published in May, states that religious freedom violations in Vietnam continued, with ongoing persecution of independent religious communities. It says the government has been particularly aggressive against ethno-religious minorities, implementing directives that violate religious practices and language use, as seen in the forced resignations and interruptions of religious meetings.

USCIRF recommended that Vietnam be designated as a “country of special concern” for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act.

Source: www.christianpost.com

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