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Three ethnic Christians released by Vietnamese police

It's believed they were detained because of their religious activities with the unrecognized Protestant House Church
A prayer service attended by a Vietnam Protestant group in progress. The communist country has given approval to 13 out of an estimated 100 Christian groups with 1.12 million members in the country.

A prayer service attended by a Vietnam Protestant group in progress. The communist country has given approval to 13 out of an estimated 100 Christian groups with 1.12 million members in the country. (Photo: AFP)

 

Published: March 11, 2024 05:49 AM GMT
Updated: March 11, 2024 06:40 AM GMT

Three members of an independent Protestant church, detained a week ago without the knowledge of their family, have been released by police in Vietnam.

They hail from the Ede ethnic minority in Ea Bhok commune in Cu Kuin district of Dak Lak province and are members of the unrecognized Protestant House Church.

Police released the three, allowing them to return to their rented accommodation in Binh Phuoc province where they were working, according to a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA) .

 “We were anxious and worried as police arrested them without notifying us,” Ede ethnic Pastor Y Khen Bdap said prior to their release at the weekend.

The detainees were Y Qui Bdap, a 42-year-old brother of the pastor, and his son and nephew Y Nam Bkrong and Y Kic Bkrong, respectively. Both are 26 years old. The brother serves as a preacher.

They have been working for KUKA Home Vietnam company, manufacturing upholstered furniture.

Pastor Bdap said company executives told them that their relatives had been led away under police escort.

After their arrest Bdap said his family asked police in Ea Bhok commune about their whereabouts but failed to get details, RFA reported on March 8.

"Police took them away while they were working at the company on the morning of March 6. The police arrested and detained them without any explanation or warrants,” Bdap told RFA.

The pastor said police checked their papers the previous night.

Y Qui Bdap met officials from the U.S. embassy in Hanoi in 2020 to report on the local authorities’ constant harassment of his church.

Bdap, who was jailed for four years in 2004 for his religious activities, had accused government authorities of constantly persecuting him and other church leaders since their church’s establishment in 2017.

He was summoned to police stations over his religious activities, including Christmas celebrations.

The pastor said the recent arrests were related to his family’s religious practice.

The detainees and other Christians hold annual human rights events, including International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief (Aug. 22) and International Human Rights Day (Dec. 10).

The Protestant House Church is not recognized by the communist government. Their members are subjected to harassment and arrest and prevented from organizing their religious activities.

Meanwhile, Vietnam FoRB Roundtable, a forum to promote freedom of religion or belief in the Southeast Asian nation, reported Evangelical Church of Christ of the Central Highlands preacher, Y Bum Bya, was found dead at a cemetery, 800 meters away from his house at Ea Tu commune on March 8.

It said Bya had been interrogated, beaten several times, and forced to abandon the church last December by police.

The latest government statistics show that there are 398, 671 Ede ethnic people mainly residing in the provinces of Dak Lak and Gia Lai.

The communist country approves only 13 out of an estimated 100 Christian groups with 1.12 million members.

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