Published: 17:00 GMT Daylight Time - Tuesday 03 July 2012
Thugs attack congregation during church service in Vietnam
Country/Region: Vietnam, South and East Asia
A Christian woman suffered a fractured skull in a brutal attack on a congregation in Vietnam by a group of thugs believed to have been paid by the authorities.
The woman was taken to hospital for treatment in intensive care following the assault in Nghe An province on Sunday evening (1 July).
A group of thugs linked to the Vietnam Patriotic Front, an extremist nationalist movement, beat ministers and members of the congregation as they gathered for a service; dozens of people were injured in the brutal assault.
It is reported that the local authorities paid the assailants 25 dollars “compensation” for their “work”. This is believed to be a strategy used regularly against Christians in Vietnam; in one incident in February, a church leader was beaten unconscious by a gang of thugs.
Over the last 18 months the authorities in Nghe An province have deployed various tactics to try to stop Christians from attending services. Believers have endured mounting threats and persecution; police and security agents have threatened them, they have had stones thrown at them, and some have been arrested. But they have remained steadfast and continued to gather for services.
In the weeks leading up to Sunday’s attack officials patrolled the streets broadcasting anti-Christian slogans and traffic officers blocked off access to church buildings.
Following the incident, church members protested outside the offices of the district People’s Committee, calling for the authorities to respect their rights to religious freedom.