International Christian Concern Raises Alarm over 11 Missing Vietnamese Christians

International Christian Concern Raises Alarm over 11 Missing Vietnamese Christians

Key events:

  • International Christian Concern Raises Alarm over 11 Missing Vietnamese Christians
  • Amnesty International: Jet Fuel Shipments Transit Vietnam Before Arriving in Myanmar
  • Vietnamese Man Convicted of ‘Disturbing Security’ For Assisting Protesters Released Two Years Early

International Christian Concern Raises Alarm over 11 Missing Vietnamese Christians

International Christian Concern, a religious freedom advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., has raised the alarm over the reported disappearance of 11 Vietnamese Christians who were imprisoned for their religious beliefs. The missing religious adherents, which include six Protestants and five Catholics, were indicted and convicted on several charges between 2011 and 2016 and sentenced to a combined 90 years and eight months in prison. All of the imprisoned Christians were Montagnards, an indigenous group living in the Central Highlands.

The missing Christians include the Protestants Ro Mah Pla, Siu Hlom, Rmah Bloanh, and Rmah Khil, who were accused of “undermining national unity policy” because of their alleged involvement in Degar Protestantism, a religious belief of the indigenous Montagnards.

The Vietnamese authorities also punished other Protestants who refused to renounce their religion. The house of Sung A Khua was damaged, and he and his family were pushed out of their village. Another Protestant, Y Hriam Kpa, was arrested for refusing to shut down his church and cease religious services.

Meanwhile, Runh, A Kuin, A Tik, Run, and Dinh Kuh, five Catholics who followed the unsanctioned Ha Mon Catholic Church, were accused of “undermining the national unity policy” and sentenced to various prison terms. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has reported that these religious adherents were mistreated and tortured in prison and that their whereabouts remain unknown.

The 2018 Law of Belief and Religion reflects the government’s growing ambition to control the spiritual activities of the country’s indigenous population. The law requires all religious groups to register with the government before they are allowed to establish institutions and operate legally. However, according to USCIRF, the registration process is lengthy and complicated. Religious organizations must run for at least five years and provide detailed information about their activities to the government before they are allowed to apply. 

Vietnamese Man Convicted of ‘Disturbing Security’ For Assisting Protesters Released Two Years Early

Truong Huu Loc, a Vietnamese man who was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of “disturbing security” under Article 118 of the Penal Code after he provided bread and water to protesters in a 2018 demonstration against draft laws on Special Economic Zones and Cybersecurity in Ho Chi Minh City, was released two years before his sentence was completed. Loc, 61, has to serve another three years of probation.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia - Vietnamese, Loc said that his early release could be a result of his speaking out against the correctional authorities’ corruption and mistreatment of inmates. Loc sent several letters to both prison and government officials regarding ] misconduct, in which he said prisoners convicted of violent crimes had to bribe correctional officers for favorable and lenient treatment. He said further that the correctional authorities reduced his sentence in an attempt to transfer him to another prison and prevent him from revealing other illegitimate practices.

According to Loc, he was arrested with more than ten other people following the police crackdown on the demonstration. Those people were beaten brutally, but he only got kicked once, he said. Moreover, Loc said his health had significantly deteriorated due to harsh prison conditions. He added that he suffered from high blood pressure, spinal degeneration, and depression.

Amnesty International: Jet Fuel Shipments Transit Vietnam on the way to Myanmar

Amnesty International, in a report released on July 8, said that new shipments of jet fuel have arrived in Myanmar after transiting shipping ports in Vietnam, despite sanctions (passed by the UK, the USA, the EU, and others last year) against the junta’s import of resources it needs to launch air strikes against civilians.

The report provided credible evidence showing three shipments of aviation energy had arrived in Myanmar between January and June this year, including a consignment that transited Vietnam before it was sent to the junta-ruled country.

The report has documented at least two occasions this year where Vietnamese ports became a transiting point for HUITONG78, a Chinese-owned oil tanker that transfers jet fuel to Myanmar. Meanwhile, Amnesty International has identified at least seven aviation fuel shipments stored at the Cai Mep Petroleum storage terminal, run by a Vietnamese company named Hai Linh Co. Ltd., before they were transferred to Myanmar between April and December 2023.

Although it remains unclear whether or not the Myanmar military eventually used the fuel shipments to deploy air strikes against civilian targets, the junta’s total control of shipping ports indicates that the fuel could have been used for military purposes. A June 2024 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur revealed that military air strikes against civilians in Myanmar have increased five times over the last six months.

Quick takes:

Two YouTube Users Fined for Publishing a Video Clip, Stating a Rock Has Resembled Monk Thich Minh Tue: The Department of Cybersecurity and High-Tech Crime Prevention and Control of the An Giang Provincial Police on July 4 issued a fine of five million dong ($196) each to two YouTube users for publishing “videos containing false and distorted information.” Previously, H.V.T., 32, and T.T.H., 40, whose names were written only in initials, posted a video on their social media accounts that featured a giant rock nestled in a slope in An Giang Province, which they said was an embodiment of the ascetic monk Thich Minh Tue. Both YouTube users said that they had removed the relevant videos.

Le Thanh Nhat Nguyen, Practitioner at Tinh That Bong Lai Temple, Indicted on Another Charge of ‘Committing Fraud’: The Security Investigation Bureau of Long An Provincial Police on July 7 announced that they had resumed the investigation and indictment of Le Thanh Nhat Nguyen, 33, a practitioner at the Buddhist temple Tinh That Bong Lai, for his alleged “fraudulent appropriation of property.” The police investigation agency claimed that Nhat Nguyen and other practitioners at the temple pretended to be monks and orphans to receive donations from the public. In 2022, a court in Long An sentenced Nhat Nguyen to four years on charges of “abusing democratic freedoms.”

EU Ambassador to Vietnam Says They Have a ‘Constructive’ Human Rights Dialogue with Hanoi: Julien Guerrier, EU Ambassador to Vietnam, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on July 8 that Brussels and Hanoi had a “useful and constructive” human rights dialogue with discussions centered on the rule of law, the death penalty, and other civil, political, and cultural rights. Meanwhile, human rights defenders have been skeptical about the outcomes of these dialogues since the Vietnamese government has increased its crackdown on civil society and adopted a new directive that further restricts the freedom of expression and labor rights.

Political Prisoner Hoang Duc Binh’s Health is “Alarming,” Family Says: Hoang Duc Nguyen, brother of political prisoner Hoang Duc Binh, wrote on July 10 that Binh’s health had “seriously deteriorated” after more than three months in solitary confinement. Nguyen learned about the alarming condition of Binh when he visited his brother in An Diem Prison, Quang Nam Province, on the same day. He said Binh has recently urinated blood and walked with a limp and that the prison authorities have not responded to the requests of Binh’s cellmates for an immediate medical examination. 

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

Political upheaval in Vietnam is holding its economy back

The Interpeter/ Ahmed Albayrak and Roland Rajah/ July 8

“Political upheaval, a contentious anti-corruption campaign, and stalled decision making are undermining the recovery and risk limiting Vietnam’s ability to benefit from shifting global supply chains.

Although beginning in 2016, the “blazing furnace” anti-corruption campaign took on real heat in 2023. In a span of a year, there were 839 new corruption cases with 2,276 public servants charged across all levels of government – triple the amount from the previous year. Resignations came from all ranks, including a former state president and his two deputy prime ministers.”

Is Vietnam's anti-corruption drive a disguised power grab?

Nikkei Asia/ Toru Takahashi/ Nikkei Asia

“To Lam may also be aiming to concentrate power in his own hands. He appears to be undermining Vietnam's traditional collective leadership through power struggles that he has seemingly fueled under the guise of anti-corruption campaigns.

In Vietnam, the Communist Party has never had a former public security official as party general-secretary, but To Lam is already laying the groundwork for his bid for the top post.

After becoming president, To Lam picked Luong Tam Quang, a former deputy minister of public security, as his successor and appointed another former deputy, Nguyen Duy Ngoc, as chief of the Party Central Committee Office. Both of his proteges hail from his native province of Hung Yen in the north. The increasing influence of the public security faction raises concerns over whether the country is headed toward dictatorship.”

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