By BosNewsLife News Center
HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- Vietnamese security forces have detained 24 house church Christians who support a religious rights group which investigates the reported persecution of members of the, predominantly Christian, Montagnard Degar ethnic minority, friends told BosNewsLife Monday, September 11.
The Montagnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI), which has close contacts with Christians in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, said the two dozen believers apparently upset the Communist authorities as they were both active in the unofficial house churches and religious rights activists.
“In the Central Highlands, as the arrests indicate, Vietnam seems intent on continuing the ethnic cleansing of our people,” the MFI claimed in a message to BosNewsLife.
However, “the more the Vietnamese government represses the people, the more support we the MFI receive from inside the central highlands," the group warned. “The Vietnamese government cannot and will not destroy our spirit," MFI added.
The list, obtained by BosNewsLife, showed that the latest known arrests of house church Christians and MFI supporters occurred August 28 when Vietnamese police arrested Rmah Pruih, 54, and imprisoned him at Cu Se district area because he is a House Church Christian and MFI supporter.
The same day, police also arrested 28-year-old “Brother, Rmah Lil, and imprisoned him at Cu Se district because he is a House Church Christian and MFI supporter,” the group claimed.
For similar reasons, police also detained a day earlier, August 27, house church Christians Siu Bo, 46, and Siu Blol, 44, in Cu Se district. In the same region House church Christians Siu Kuan, 25, Ksor Gon, 22, and Siu U, 24, were detained a week earlier on August 20, according to the list released by MFI.
There were more arrests in August: Rahlan Brim, 26, was detained and imprisoned at Cu Se district on August 14 because he apparently supported MFI and is a house church Christian. Two days earlier, on August 12, Vietnamese police also arrested “our Christian Brother, Rahlan Brong, while he was trying to run for his life to [neighboring] Cambodia,” MFI claimed. The 29-year-old believer is now imprisoned Pleiku city, the group said.
Four more house church Christians were detained on August 2 in Cu Se district. They were identified as: Brot Din, 26, Rahlan Iem, 47, Rahlan Kong, 28, and Rahlan Yo, 29.
Other reportedly arrested Christians in July include:
--Rahlan Ngoan, 27, Rahlan Suan, 26, and Rahlan Gu, 26, who were all detained July 31
in Ce Se district, MFI said.
--On July 27, Vietnamese police also arrested 23-year-old Ksor Hui and “ imprisoned him at an unknown location because he is a House Church Christian and MFI supporter,” the group said in a message accompanying the list. The same day Vietnamese security forces also detained “Christian Brother Kang”, 22, “at his house and imprisoned him in the commune of Ia Pet and then sent him the prison in Gia Lai province,” of the Central Highlands, MFI claimed.
--On 25 June Vietnamese police also arrested "Christian Brothers" Doc, 21, Than, 26, and Blek, 28, and imprisoned them “at an unknown location,” MFI alleged. Than “had also been arrested and tortured once before in 2004,” and “his family fears for his life." There was also concern about the whereabouts if Blek, who MFI said, “had been arrested and tortured once in 2002 but was released." This was his second arrest.
--Earlier on July 23, Vietnamese police “summoned” Rahlan Suan, 22, to their station in the commune of Ia Pet. “He was arrested when he arrived there and they sent him to the province of Gialai but his whereabouts are unknown,” MFI said. His father, Suoc, was reportedly shot in the leg by Vietnamese soldiers on March 23, 2003 and died in captivity as he was beaten by police in custody and his skull was fractured, rights watchers say.
There were two more cases MFI said it was concerned about: on July 15 "Vietnamese police arrested our Christian Brother, Siu Nang, and imprisoned him at Cu Se district because he is a House Church Christian and MFI supporter. The police beat him with batons the entire way from his house until they threw him in their car." The 20-year old believer “had been previously arrested on January 6, 2006 but was later released after he had been tortured by the police," the group said.
Nearly three weeks earlier on June 28, Vietnamese police arrested Puih Kro, 22, and imprisoned him at Cu Se district because of his activities for a house church and MFI, the group added. Vietnamese officials have consistently denied human rights abused and claim MFI and other groups are spreading propaganda.
The attacks against Montagnard Degar Christians have been linked by human rights watchers to the support their community gave to the United States during the Vietnam War and frustration among Communist officials about the spread of Christianity in the Central Highlands and other regions.
Over 350 Montagnard Degar people are believed to be imprisoned in Vietnam mainly for their faith and attempts to flee Vietnam because of persecution, MFI said. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from Vietnam).
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