Persecution Report from Vietnam

Nov 20, 2002 03:00 AM EST

Three Christians have been killed by lethal injection as part of a "massive crackdown" on rural believers, according to the U.K.-based Christian human rights group, Jubilee Campaign.

The three who died on Oct. 29 were executed "simply for taking part in peaceful demonstrations" in February last year. Jubilee said that a report claimed security police coerced a nurse to administer the injections, but when she refused, officers injected the trio with an unknown drug, killing them.

The three victims were members of the Montagnard community, a group of around 600,000 hilltribes people, two-thirds of whom are Protestant and Catholic Christians. Vietnamese authorities have imposed martial law on the Montagnards, who have a separate language and culture from the majority ethnic Vietnamese.

Entire villages have been put under arrest, and hundreds arrested, beaten and tortured with electric prods. More than 350 of 412 churches in the Dak Lak province have been forcibly disbanded over the last few months, with 50 pastors and church elders arrested or "disappeared," Jubilee said. The remaining churches are expected to be shut down soon.

"For many years Christians all over Vietnam have been persecuted for their faith," said Jubilee's Parliamentary Officer, Wilfred Wong. "However, this must be one of the darkest periods ever of anti-Christian persecution, and the ethnic minorities such as the Montagnards of the Central Highlands and the Hmong are bearing the brunt of this appalling brutality."

By Albert H. Lee