The prominent Vietnamese Mennonite pastor, Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang, who was imprisoned last year on charges that he denied doing, was released on Aug. 30 several days after Vietnam celebrated its National Day of amnesty.
"Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang has been united with his family and his congregation at the facility of the Vietnam Mennonite Christian Church in Ho Chi Minh city," Dan Duy Hoang, a spokesman for the Vietnamese American Public Affairs Committee, told AFP.
Rev. Quang, who is known as a promoter for religious freedom and human rights was found guilty by the Ho Chi Minh city court for resisting police officers last year on Jun. 8, 2004.
According to Compass Direct, Rev. Quang faced cruel conditions and was abused by his inmates. They reported that Rev. Quang faced persecution in the five prisons that he was transferred to.
"What we need to see now is whether Pastor Quang will have the liberty to lead his congregation or whether the government is transferring him from a prison camp to a form of house arrest due to international pressure," Hoang said.
U.S. lawmakers have urged President Bush to push Vietnam, which is a one of the "countries of particular concern" on the list at the U.S. State Department for violating their agreement on religious freedom, to act on the progress of human rights and religious freedom.
Rev. Quang was released after Vietnam celebrated its 60th anniversary of independence from France on Friday, meanwhile the country's vice-foreign minister Le Van Bang said on Monday that they would release 21 foreigners among 10,400 of their prisoners that included four from the U.S., five Cambodians, four from Taiwan, three from Malaysia, one from South Korea, Laos, the city of Cameroon, and two from China.
The Mennonite church continues to face persecution according to a Mennonite missionary Truong Tri Hien, who submitted his testimony to the House of Foreign Relations Committee on June 20.
In Nov 2004, Vietnam proposed to liberalize religious laws asking the unofficial churches to register, however house church leaders remain skeptical who also doubt whether U.S. and Vietnam can form an agreement in May to improve the religious freedom of Vietnam’s flourishing house churches.