Over 60 Religious Leaders Detained in Prison Camps in Vietnam

Government Claims Christians Forming Separatist Movement

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) Staff | 1246 hits

Fides Agency, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, reported today that 63 Christian pastors and other religious leaders are among those detained in four prison camps in Vietnam.

In a report sent by the International Christian Concern (ICC) organization, the detained face various sentences ranging from 5 - 18 years and are subjected to forced labor for 14 hours a day. The ICC monitors “religious freedom and the plight of Christians in the world.”

"Almost all the prisoners are members of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Because of their belonging, the Christian faithful face a level of discrimination and oppression higher than most of the other Vietnamese,” a statement from the ICC read.

The ICC also stated that the Vietnamese government observes a “very strict” surveillance of religious institutions. The government began repressing protesters denouncing “the illegal confiscation of land and religious oppression.

Local authorities in the province of Binh Phuoc are working to dismantle 116 Christian chapels that belong to the Evangelical Church of South Vietnam. Authorities claim that minority groups belonging to the Church are forming a separatist movement.

Reports in recent years claim that some Protestants as well as Christians have been arrested under charges of “threats to national security” and “illegal activities”.