Vietnamese Christian bags jail term for holding prayer meeting in his home

(A church in Vietnam. Image credit: Architectural Structures)

A Christian from Vietnam, Nay Blang, has bagged a jail term of four years and five months for holding prayer sessions in his home. The 48-year-old was charged for “secession and incitement”.

According to Pastor Aga, the founder of Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ, whom the victim is a part of, said that Blang was sent to jail without legal representation.

He told Radio Free Asia that Blang’s faith was allegedly instigating actions which were not of the interest of the state. The church has been accused of making attempts to challenge the unity of the nation with its gatherings. Besides, the church is not recognised by the state.

It will not be the first time that the victim will be arrested as he has been arrested in the past for similar reasons. According to the United Kingdom-based rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Blang’s right to practice his faith has been under siege.

Blang belongs to the Montagnard community in the country which is predominantly Christian and has a history of clashing with the Vietnamese government.

CSW founder Mervyn Thomas opened up on the negative effect of religious freedom in Vietnam and also showed serious concern for Blang’s hearing which lacks due process.

Thomas said, “The Vietnamese government views the simple act of prayer as a direct threat to their power and legitimacy. No person should fear jail for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.  These recent developments show that the human rights situation in Vietnam continues to deteriorate. We emphasize that this is part of a wider pattern of the targeting of religious and ethnic minorities across Vietnam that is often more severe in rural areas.”

In addition, Aga said that the involvement of the victim’s lawyer would have made the case fair. He was quoted as telling Radio Free Asia, "If lawyer Ha Huy Son had been present, it would have been a fair and transparent trial to see if Mr. Blang is guilty or not.

“But in reality, only people from the government were present, meaning the government could give Blang any sentence they wanted. Why were there no lawyers to defend or argue about legal issues."

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