by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Vietnam has come under fire from US government officials and international human rights advocates after Vietnamese authorities raided two churches and arrested over 20 Christians, almost all of whom belong to the persecuted Montagnard ethnic group, in May, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports.
Indigenous to the area close to Vietnam’s border with Cambodia, around seventy percent of Montagnards are Christian, ICC reports. The Vietnamese government has sought to suppress the expression of Montagnards’ faith, and otherwise mistreats them: the percentage of Chrisitan in the Montagnard community is ten times the national average.
Concerning the raids in May, Ned Price, spokesman for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said in a statement: “Very troubling that Vietnamese authorities…conducted coordinated raids on house churches. We urge Vietnam to cease this harassment and intimidation and allow everyone to practice their faith.”
US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chairwoman Nadine Maenza called the raids an “egregious abuse.”
Rights groups note that Vietnamese police and prison authorities such as those who conducted the raids have a reputation for brutalizing and even torturing detainees.
This year the USCIRF recommended that the US State Department designate Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for severe violations of human rights and religious freedom. The State Department followed the recommendation and designated Vietnam a CPC in May.
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