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Mennonites in Vietnam again call for religious freedom


January 12, 2004


Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang addresses participants during a conference.

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Winnipeg, Man.- Mennonite Church Canada Witness has learned that a Vietnam Mennonite Church leader is again calling for religious freedom after authorities detained Christians in Ho Chi Minh City.

Mennonite Church leader Nguyen Hong Quang led church members to the police station demanding the release of the detainees. They were detained by security police for distributing unauthorized literature.

In December, 2003, Vietnam for the first time hosted the prestigious 22th South East Asian (SEA) Games. News reports indicated that a few persons were apprehended by police in Hanoi for distributing literature at the time of the first sporting events. The next day, several people were detained in Ho Chi Minh City for distributing fliers that contained a personal witness by international soccer players about their faith in Jesus Christ. One person was assaulted by police on December 7. This was followed by an apology from a police major, and assurance this would not happen again. However, others were detained in following days.

Quang gathered church members together at a main police station to call for the release of all those held. Police denied that anyone was arrested, and said they were only detained for interrogation to find the source of the literature, which was not authorized by SEA Games organizers. Latest reports indicated that all persons were released. In the past few years unknown persons on motorcycles have attempted to strike Pastor Quang on several occasions. Once he was severely hurt, and a rider on the striking motorcycle was killed.

The first report of these events from Ho Chi Minh City to Vietnamese Mennonite pastors in North American began, "Please pray."

Gordon Janzen, MC Canada mission partnership facilitator for Asia and the Middle East, said, “Here in North America it is easy to forget that churches in many parts of the world are persecuted for their beliefs.”

Quang, a pastoral leader of the Vietnam Mennonite Church, was chosen vice-president and general secretary at the Church's first general conference this past July 27. He has repeatedly called on government leaders to implement true religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution and by governmental decrees.

In his role as legal counsel to a group of house churches, Pastor Quang has numerous times served as spokesperson when local authorities have torn down meeting facilities of the churches.