By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
HANOI, VIETNAM (Worthy News)-- An attack against minority Christians living in the central highlands of Vietnam in July left 16 men and women severely injured with one man still under arrest, according to International Christian Concern.
On July 7, Vietnamese security forces and police disrupted a worship service in the village of Buon Kret Krot in Gai Lai province by beating the attendees; security forces then told the congregation that "if anyone worships like this way, we will return to arrest you all and put you in prison for five years."
Twelve men and four women were so violently beaten that most lapsed into unconsciousness.
Police beat A Jung with batons until he collapsed and lost consciousness; Jung was later taken away by police and remains in custody as of this report. Other villagers were beaten with batons, firearms and tree branches: the youngest victim was Y Kang, a 13-year old girl.
Vietnam has maintained a long-standing policy of harassing and arresting Christians who are not affiliated with its government-sanctioned religious organizations.
"The Vietnamese government has targeted indigenous Degar Montagnards for simply being members of Christian house churches, in a long running policy designed to eliminate independent Christian house churches," said Scott Johnson of the Montagnard Foundation. "Hundreds of Degar Montagnards remain in prison today and in custody many prisoners are brutally tortured and even killed. There is a shameful silence from the international community, including the United Nations and State Department, as to the plight of these forgotten prisoners even while the evidence of systematic religious persecution is overwhelming."
Since 2001, more than 350 Degar Montagnards were arrested and sentenced to prison because they were considered by the Vietnamese regime to be "subversives".
"We call upon the Vietnamese government to cease this systematic practice of violence and persecution against Christians, especially Degar Montagnards," said Kris Elliott, ICC's Regional Manager for Southeastern Asia. "We also urge the US Department of State to once again designate Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern, as conditions for religious minorities have vastly deteriorated since the designation was lifted in 2006. A CPC designation backed by strong US policies has the potential to pave a path towards significant improvements for Christians and other religious minorities in Vietnam.”