When police arrested Tran Thi Hong they subjected her to hours of physical abuse, including beatings. They demanded she sign a false statement that the church pastored by her husband is a “subversive” organisation. She refused and was abused for a further three hours before being released. Tran Thi Hong’s husband was already in jail, serving an eleven-year sentence for “anti-government activities”.
Christians in communist Vietnam are viewed as enemies of the one-party state and have been the victims of persecution by the authorities for decades. They are under constant surveillance and face arbitrary arrest; many can tell stories of police brutality.
More than half of Vietnam’s Christians are from ethnic minorities, including Montagnards from the Central Highlands who are also victimised for their support of US forces during the 1955–1975 Vietnam war. In addition to persecution from the state, Christians have also been targeted in attacks by local animists, who have forced believers to leave their homes.
Churches are required to be officially registered with the authorities, but the regulations, which were introduced in 2013, make it almost impossible for unregistered congregations to obtain legal status. House churches, which are unregistered, are especially targeted by the security police. Christian lawyers campaigning for religious freedoms have also been singled out by the authorities, who highlight their connections to Western human rights organisations, and falsely accuse them of “conducting propaganda against the state”. A new religion law, passed in November 2016, was hailed by state media as guaranteeing religious freedom, although the vague legislation bans religious activity that could “harm social order and/or national unity”
Lift up in prayer Vietnamese believers who live daily with the possibility of arrest, detention and torture at the hands of their own government. Pray that they will know that the Lord upholds the righteous (Psalm 37:17). Ask for God’s special protection for church pastors and for ethnic Montagnard Christians, who have been particularly persecuted. Pray that efforts to persuade the Vietnamese government to increase religious freedom will be successful and that Christians detained in prison will be released.