By BosNewsLife News Center
HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- There was mounting concern Monday, March 5, about the whereabouts of a key leader of an indigenous house church in Vietnam's Central Highlands after Vietnamese security forces reportedly raided a village and detained several Christians.
In a statement to BosNewsLife, the Montagnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI), which represents the predominantly Christian Degar-Montagnard community in the region, said about 100 Vietnamese government soldiers and police "entered and sealed off" the village of Buon Moak in Dak Lak province on February 17.
"The soldiers and police then arrested two of our Christian brothers Y-Ja Nie, 55 and Y-Tuc Buonya, 44, because they are Christians who refused to join the government recognized church," MFI said.
The group claimed that both "were taken to the prison facility in the district of Mdrak," in Dak Lak province. While Y-Tuc Buonya was released February 23, "Y-Ja Nie was sent to the prison facility in Buonmathuot because he is the preacher of [the] house church at his village of Buon Moak," MFI said.
TORTURE APPARENTLY USED
"Given the Vietnamese governmentâ€™s track record of using torture against such prisoners it is thus feared this preacher will be maltreated and their families are extremely distressed," the group claimed.
Several Degar-Montagnard Christians have reportedly been tortured in seperate incidents, several human rights groups say. "These prisoners continue to suffer abuses and are subjected to torture, including electric shock treatment, beatings as well as being withheld food and medical care," MFI explained.
"The authorities continue to persecute members of the Christian House Church movement who refuse to join the government recognized church. In many cases authorities have beaten prisoners causing deliberate internal organ damage and a number of prisoners have already died in custody or soon after their release from prison."
HUNDREDS BEHIND BARS
At least hundreds of Christians, including about 350 predominantly Christian Degar-Montagnards, are believed to be behind bars across the Communist-run country. Vietnamese officials have denied wrongdoing saying Christians are free to worship in government backed churches.
However many Christians apparently refuse to worship there, saying the churches are not Christ-centered, but focused on the state's Communist doctrine. The United States removed Vietnam from its list of 'countries of particular concern' regarding religious rights violations, a move that was condemned by human rights groups.
The reported crackdown on Degar-Montagnards have been linked in part to anger among authorities about their Christian activities and support for American forces during the Vietnam War. Many are also said to have been persecuted for trying to flee to nearby Cambodia. (With reports from Vietnam).
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