Vietnam: Leader of unregistered house church jailed for 11 years *Iran: 12 Christians stand trial Easter Sunday

April 11, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Asia, Iran, newsletter-asia, Persecution, Vietnam

Christians face severe persecution in the Central Highlands - GFDL by DXLINH

Vietnam, April 04, 2012: The pastor of a house church in Vietnam has been jailed for eleven years for “disrupting national unity”.

The 43-year-old church leader admitted to leading the unregistered church in the Central Highlands, where ethnic minority Christians face persecution and restrictions, during a one-day trial.

He had been arrested in April and was also convicted of handing out anti-government leaflets and “enticing ethnic minorities to commit wrongdoing”.

The church leader, who is highly esteemed within the Christian community, was described as “a good man” by one believer.

All churches in Vietnam are supposed to register with the government and submit to its direction. Unregistered groups are particularly vulnerable to persecution, and any religious activity deemed to cause public disorder, harm national security or “sow divisions” is banned. Church buildings have been destroyed and Christians imprisoned on charges of violating national security.

Christians in some areas of the Central Highlands are among the worst affected. In its latest annual report, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that the Secretary of State designate Vietnam a “Country of Particular Concern” for “systematic and egregious limitations” of religious freedom. CPC designation is reserved for the world’s worst violators of religious freedom; others on the list this year included Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

The USCIRF’s report said:
The government of Vietnam continues to control all religious communities, restrict and penalize independent religious practice severely, and repress individuals and groups viewed as challenging its authority.

Individuals continue to be imprisoned or detained for reasons related to their religious activity or religious freedom advocacy; independent religious activity remains illegal; legal protections for government-approved religious organizations are both vague and subject to arbitrary or discriminatory interpretations based on political factors; and new converts to ethnic-minority Protestantism and members of one Buddhist community face discrimination, intimidation, and pressure to renounce their faith.

He had been arrested in April and was also convicted of handing out anti-government leaflets and “enticing ethnic minorities to commit wrongdoing”.

The church leader, who is highly esteemed within the Christian community, was described as “a good man” by one believer.

All churches in Vietnam are supposed to register with the government and submit to its direction. Unregistered groups are particularly vulnerable to persecution, and any religious activity deemed to cause public disorder, harm national security or “sow divisions” is banned. Church buildings have been destroyed and Christians imprisoned on charges of violating national security.

Christians in some areas of the Central Highlands are among the worst affected.

In its latest annual report, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that the Secretary of State designate Vietnam a “Country of Particular Concern” for “systematic and egregious limitations” of religious freedom. CPC designation is reserved for the world’s worst violators of religious freedom; others on the list this year included Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

The USCIRF’s report said:

“The government of Vietnam continues to control all religious communities, restrict and penalize independent religious practice severely, and repress individuals and groups viewed as challenging its authority.

“Individuals continue to be imprisoned or detained for reasons related to their religious activity or religious freedom advocacy; independent religious activity remains illegal; legal protections for government-approved religious organizations are both vague and subject to arbitrary or discriminatory interpretations based on political factors; and new converts to ethnic-minority Protestantism and members of one Buddhist community face discrimination, intimidation, and pressure to renounce their faith.”

- barnabas team

12 Iranian Christians stand trial Easter Sunday

 

Iran, April 09, 2012: Twelve Christians are to stand trial in Iran on Easter Sunday on charges including “crimes against the order”, an activist assisting them with advocacy told Worthy News.

Jason DeMars, director of the Present Truth Ministries group, said Friday that the Christians are facing the court in the northeastern city of Rasht, though “they were earlier for the same ‘crimes’ last year in [the Caspian Sea city of] Bandar Anzali.”

“This highlights once again, that it is illegal to be a Christian in Iran,” De Mars said.

Among the Christians is Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and his wife Anahita Khadeimi, he explained. Others were identified as Mahmoud Khosh-Hal and his wife Hava Saadetmend, Amir Goldoust, Mina Goldoust, Zhaina Bahremand, Fatemah Modir-Nouri, Mehrdad Habibzade, Milad Radef, Behzad Taalipasand and Amin Pishkar.

It comes amid reports of mounting pressure on devoted Christians in Iran, including former Muslims, amid a rapidly growing house church movement in the Islamic nation.

Evangelical Christians

There may be at least 100,000 evangelical Christians in Iran, according to conservative estimates, though some groups say that number is much higher.

Monday’s trial is held not far from the prison where Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani faces possible execution for refusing to abandon his faith in Christ and return to Islam, according to court documents seen by Worthy News.

DeMars explained that his group has urged supporters to “pray for these believers as they stand trial” which was to begin early Sunday local time.

“We pray that God gives them courage to stand for their faith, to express themselves clearly and to bring him honor and glory. We also pray that he touches the heart of the judges to acquit these saints of these “crimes,” DeMars told supporters receiving his electronic newsletters.

Iranian officials have consistently denied wrongdoing, saying they try to uphold the values of Islam and the laws of the land.

- worthynews

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