19 Vietnamese Christians Arrested for Religious Publications

( [email protected] ) Dec 11, 2003 10:15 AM EST

Ho Chi Minh City – Nineteen Christians were arrested for handing out religious publications in Ho Chi Minh City, Tuesday, Dec 9. In reaction, protestant minister Nguyen Hong Quang staged a hunger strike for the release of his fellow worshippers.

"We love this country, and we respect the law, but we are being persecuted for our beliefs," Quang said during a telephone interview.

Quang, in staging his hunger strike, said he seeks the release of all 19 detainees, an end to religious oppression in Vietnam and a public apology from the authorities for the arrests.

On a similar note, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution last month, urging the government of Vietnam to "respect the right of all independent religious organizations to meet, worship, operate and practice their faith in accordance with Vietnam's own constitution and international covenants to which Vietnam is a signatory."

It also calls on the communist government "to restore freedom to all Vietnamese citizens imprisoned or under house arrest for practicing their faith or for advocating freedom of religion."

The United States Embassy in Vietnam also has been urged "to closely monitor cases of abuse of religious belief and practice, routinely visit detained clergy members, especially those in need of medical care, and report to the Congress on specific measures taken to protect and promote religious freedom in Vietnam."

The arrested ministers were carrying or handing out leaflets that contained game schedules and invitations to readers to consider following Jesus Christ. The Vietnamese government disclosed the whereabouts of only 15 of the 19 detainees.