Vietnamese evangelists severely beaten in police custody

( [email protected] ) Mar 10, 2004 09:24 AM EST

Vietnam - According to sources in Ho Chi Minh City, law enforcement authorities in Vietnam are subjecting house church leaders to relentless harassment.

The latest incident began on the afternoon of March 2 at the home of Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang, vice president and general secretary of the Mennonite Church. Quang and evangelist Pham Ngoc Thach discovered two undercover security

police spying on them from a stakeout about 200 feet from the Quang residence. Quang and Thach took down the license number of the police motorbike and reported it to the head of their city ward. Some time later, several dozen officers from Special Unit 113, the district police, undercover police and local defense forces arrived at the scene. Armed with guns and electric cattle prods, they surrounded the Quang home and ordered the 12 Christian workers gathered there to remain inside the house. According to witnesses, police then tried to incite neighbors to attack the Christians. They seized a church elder and took him to the ward police station.

That night, Thach, Nguyen Van Phuong and Nguyen Thanh Nhan, went to inquire about the elder and authorities took the trio into custody. Later it was reported that the police beat Thach, kicking Thach in the chest, stomach and groin, and beating him until he passed out. They also beat Nhan into unconsciousness. The young evangelists were later charged with “resisting an officer.” According to reports, the three young men are still being held at the police station.