Vietnam faces call to free pastor : LUSENET : Vietnamese American Society : One Thread

Vietnam faces call to free pastor

Thu Jun 10,11:38 PM ET

HANOI (AFP) - A prominent human rights organisation has urged Vietnam's government to release the pastor of an underground Protestant church arrested earlier this week in Ho Chi Minh City.

"The Vietnamese government should immediately release the Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang, a human rights defender and activist leader of the banned Mennonite church in Vietnam", the New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement received Friday.

"Quang's arrest appears to be part of the Vietnamese government's mounting repression of activists who promote human rights or religious freedom," said Dinah PoKempner, general counsel at Human Rights Watch.

Vietnam admitted Thursday the pastor had been arrested but denied his detention was connected to his religious activities.

"According to competent agencies, Quang was arrested for his acts against public officials, not for any religious reasons," foreign ministry spokesman Le Dung said.

One protestant source citing the southern business capital's public security department told AFP this week that Quang, general secretary of the outlawed Mennonite Church, was detained on Tuesday for "organizing people to obstruct officials on duty."

He said Quang's arrest related to scuffles that broke out on March 2 after undercover police tried to snatch a camera from two church members who had photographed them surrounding the church's headquarters.

Four other church members have been detained since March 2 but their whereabouts remain unknown, the source said.

Since the incident, according to HRW, Quang and his colleagues have mounted a campaign to call attention to the arrests and possible torture of the four Mennonites, detained without official orders.

Asked Thursday about the link between the March 2 incident and the pastor's arrest, Dung said he needed "further investigation from competent agencies".

HRW said police ransacked the pastor's office and confiscated his computer, personal papers and documents, including his legal files on human rights cases he as defending.

Quang, a lawyer, "has defended land rights cases of impoverished farmers from the provinces, spoken out against the arrests of religious and political dissidents, and publicized the plight of minority Christian churches in Vietnam's central highlands", HRW said.

"Once again, Vietnam's government has shown it will go to any length to

silence those who dare to speak out about religious repression, arbitrary confiscation of land, and the rights of ethnic minorities," PoKempner said.

-- lu cho' thui HANOI (, June 13, 2004


Last Update: Friday, June 11, 2004. 11:38pm (AEST) Vietnam bans reporters for 'inaccuracies' Vietnam has banned two newspaper journalists from reporting, and their state-run employers have suspended them, as they are accused of inaccurate reporting about corruption.

All Vietnamese media are state-controlled and journalists require licences from the Ministry of Culture and Information to work.

The ministry has revoked the media credentials of Dinh Anh Tuan, a reporter at the Tien Phong newspaper, and Truong Hoang Long, from the Gia Dinh & Xa Hoi newspaper.

In February the newspapers mistakenly reported the identity of a defendant in a corruption case involving customs officials at a checkpoint on the Chinese border.

The papers wrongly said he was a nephew of a deputy chief of a provincial communist party.

"We have corrected Tuan's writing and he is not allowed to write now," an official from Tien Phong, the official mouthpiece of the Ho Chi Minh Youth Communist League, said.

The Family and Society newspaper confirms the suspension of its reporter but declines further comment.

-- Reuters

-- lu cho' thui HANOI (, June 13, 2004.

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