Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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(Forum 18) – Despite three new legal documents on religion since last November, government harassment of religious communities has not eased. Prison sentences on Mennonite pastor Nguyen Hong Quang and a colleague were confirmed in April, two Hoa Hao Buddhists were given prison sentences and massive fines the same month for distributing the teachings of their movement’s founder, while Hmong Protestants in the north-west were beaten by local officials and had their properties confiscated in May. The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and numerous Protestant churches remain outlawed. A comparison of the situation five years ago and today shows no change in the fundamental causes of persecution: the restrictions on unregistered religious activity, the interference in the activity of registered religious communities and the lack of a transparent line of command from the central government to local officials which allows local violations to continue. If religious freedom is to improve, these three causes of persecution will be crucial benchmarks of change.