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Profile of Nguyen Hong Quang


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Nguyen Hong Quang has been a leader within the evangelical Christian house movement for many years. In 1998 he affiliated with the Mennonite movement.

Quang lived with his family in Ho Chi Minh City's District 2, just east of the Saigon River. A charismatic leader, he succeeded in getting permission from the local ward for a church to meet in a large room at the rear of his house. He was mentor to many young evangelists. He and his group evangelized and nurtured Christians in central Vietnam and among the ethnic minorities in the central highlands.

These groups, together with Mennonite groups in other areas, came together in July 2003 to form the Vietnam Mennonite Church. Quang was chosen to serve as Vice-President and General Secretary.

Trained in law, Quang was head of the legal committee of the Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship (VEF), an association of some 20 house churches groups. He routinely documented and reported government harassment against churches in many parts of the country. In December, 2003 he publicly called for the release of persons arrested for handing out Christian literature in Ho Chi Minh City.

At the resolution of the December incident, a Ho Chi Minh City police official had told Quang, "If you discover or have any evidence of individuals or organizations that are following you or acting violently against any pastor or evangelist, please inform us and we will punish them without mercy."

According to detailed information reported by Quang and others, the March 2 incident which sparked the first arrests began when Quang reported to the local ward administrative authorities that they had sighted two undercover agents who had for some time followed and threatened them and visitors to their District 2 home and church center. When they then proceeded to photograph them and their motorcycle license number, the two men attempted to flee. Their motorcycle upset, so they fled on foot. When police came and wanted to remove the motorcycle, Quang insisted that the vehicle remain at the scene until the police prepared a report.

Large numbers of police were called to the area and Nghia, one evangelist, was arrested and taken to a nearby police station. When reports came a short time later that Nghia was being beaten, his brother Nhan went with Phuong and Thach, two other church workers, to inquire. All three were detained. Pastor Quang was arrested on June 8 when he was lured from his home by police posing as land agents. In July, Le Thi Hong Lien, a woman church worker, was also arrested.

Following the arrests in March and again in June and July, the police authorities contacted many church leaders in the city, insisting that these arrests had nothing to do with religious freedom. They also called together people from the District 2 community to denounce Quang and the local church. In early July newspapers, TV and radio reports called Quang a thug and criminal. These accusations were rejected, both by local Christians, and by the international Mennonite community which called for the release of Quang and the others.