Vietnamese Christian Sentenced to 4.5 Years in Prison after Holding a Prayer Meeting in his Home

Vietnamese Christian Sentenced to 4.5 Years in Prison after Holding a Prayer Meeting in his Home

Advocates report that a Montagnard Christian from Vietnam has been given a prison sentence of 4.5 years for organizing prayer meetings at his home. This verdict highlights the ongoing tensions between religious practices and state policies in Vietnam, particularly affecting the Montagnard minority and their Christian faith.

Nay Y Blang, a 48-year-old member of the Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ, was tried without legal representation last Friday, according to Pastor Aga, the church’s founder. He was convicted of allegedly inciting actions against the state’s interests.

The church, which is not recognized by the state, has been accused of attempting to undermine national unity through its religious gatherings.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a right-wing group based in the United Kingdom, affirms that Blang’s right to practice his faith is under threat, citing his previous imprisonment and fines for similar reasons.

The Montagnard community, to which Blang belongs, is predominantly Christian and has a history of clashes with the Vietnamese government.

Mervyn Thomas, the founder of CSW, expressed deep concern about the lack of due process in Blang’s trial and the wider implications for religious freedom in Vietnam.

“The Vietnamese government perceives simple prayer as a direct challenge to their power and legitimacy,” Thomas stated. “No individual should face imprisonment for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief. These recent developments indicate that the human rights situation in Vietnam is deteriorating. We emphasize that this is part of a larger pattern of targeting religious and ethnic minorities throughout Vietnam, which is often more severe in rural areas.”

Aga describes Blang’s sentence as “unacceptable.”

Aga expressed that if lawyer Ha Huy Son had been present, there would have been a truly fair and transparent trial to determine Mr. Blang’s guilt.

Aga highlighted the absence of lawyers to defend or argue legal matters, stating that only government officials were present, allowing the government to impose any sentence on Blang as they pleased. This lack of legal representation raises concerns about the fairness of the judicial process.

Blang’s previous fines and imprisonment for similar offenses reflect the Vietnamese government’s strict control over religious expression. The recent mass trial of over 100 Montagnards, who were convicted of terrorism-related charges, further adds to the tension in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

The attack on provincial party offices, which resulted in multiple deaths, has led to the arrest of individuals described by the Ministry of Public Security as “young people who harbored illusions and extreme attitudes.” This event has sparked international criticism regarding human rights, particularly the treatment of religious and ethnic minorities in Vietnam’s one-party system.

The sentences handed down to the Montagnards range from life imprisonment to 3.5 to 20 years in prison. Additionally, some overseas activists have been indicted, with the government accusing US activists of coordinating attacks, although these allegations have been denied by the activists.

The international community, along with human rights organizations, has called for greater religious freedom and justice for the Montagnards and other minority groups in Vietnam.


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