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After pastor beaten, interfaith group censures Vietnam govt

Unregistered religious leaders are abducted, beaten and imprisoned but receive no help from officials

After pastor beaten, interfaith group censures Vietnam govt

Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton in hospital on March 17 after being attacked by attackers who are suspected to be plainclothes police. (Photo by Son Le Van)

ucanews.com reporter, Hanoi
Vietnam

March 21, 2017

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An interfaith group in Vietnam has condemned two separate cases of clerics allegedly being attacked or harassed by state security officers.

The Interfaith Council of Vietnam, a group of leaders from unregistered faiths, issued a statement after security officers allegedly abducted and assaulted a pastor and prevented an elderly Catholic priest from protesting against environmental pollution.

The March 19 statement, signed by 25 council members from Protestant and Catholic groups, the Unified Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam, and indigenous faiths of Cao Dai and Hoa Hao Buddhist sect, accused government authorities of deliberately "aiding and abetting police forces so that they protect communist rule."

Their statement condemned police for hiding their identities and covering up their car number plates in order to abduct and attack Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton from Thanh Hoa Province, northern Vietnam.

Pastor Ton and a friend were abducted by a group of strangers Feb. 27 as they traveled to Quang Binh Province to look for their relatives' tombs. The unidentified men forced the two men into a vehicle, removed their clothes, tied and blindfolded them, and beat them with batons. The unidentified men stole their personal papers, money and cellphones before dropping them at a rubber plantation in a remote area of Ha Tinh province.

Local people found the pastor and his friend and took them to hospital.

Church sources said Pastor Ton tore two ligaments and had his left leg broken. He had an operation on his legs on March 14 and remains in hospital.

On March 3, Pastor Ton sent a request to the Ministry of Public Security and Public Security departments to investigate but received no reply.

The pastor, who served two years in prison for conducting a campaign against the communist government before being freed in 2013, said in his request that "security officers from the three provinces might be behind the attack."

The statement further condemned the government for failing to bring any perpetrators to justice over the attack.

On March 4, a group of plainclothes police snatched a traditional flag and two banners from Father Tadeus Nguyen Van Ly outside a home for retired priests in Hue City. The priest is in poor health and needs a stick to walk around but that did not stop them from manhandling him and forcing him into his room.

Father Ly is a vocal supporter of the fight against the Taiwanese Formosa Steel Plant which caused Vietnam's worst environmental disaster in April 2016 when it spilled toxic waste into the see ruining the livelihoods of fisher folk.

Pastor Ton and Father Ly are both members of the council.

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