The leader of the unregistered Vietnam Evangelical Mennonite Church along with his son and a church pastor were attacked by thugs on Wednesday in the facility they rent for worship services in a town north of Ho Chi Minh City.
The attack on Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang, his son Nguyen Quang Trieu and Pastor Le Quang Du occurred in Ben Cat district of Binh Duong province in southern Vietnam as police watched, Quang told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
International Mennonites have sent a letter to the Vietnamese government about the attack and contacted the center’s management board, he said.
“They told me to try to talk with the government,” Quang said, adding that this was only one of two options he had. The other would be for him to step down.
“We have tried to approach authorities at the Ministry of Public Security to arrange some dialogues,” he said.
Quang, who is also a human rights lawyer, said the attack occurred after he, his son and pastor Du made plans buy a noodle trolley from a jobless woman who helped out in the church’s nursery.
“She called us several times to come down, but we could not because of our concern about safety,” Quang said.
But Du wanted the trolley so he could earn money selling noodles to help his family, he said.
When Quang and his son arrived, a group of seven young men attacked them and called about 20 more people to join them in beating the duo.
Quang suffered four injuries, including a broken and cut eyelid, while his son received seven injuries, he said.
Another church pastor witnessed the attack and reported it to yet another pastor, he said.
Police arrested Du while he was on the way to the church, Quang said. When Du fainted at the police station, officers took him to a hospital, but returned him to the station because he had taken a trolley.
When RFA contacted Truong Van Duong, police chief of Ben Cat district, he denied the attack had occurred.
“Nothing happened. Those people have their personal conflicts only,” he said about the harassment of and attack on Quang and his son. “There is no such thing in this society; our society is civilized, and everybody respects laws.”
Not the first time
Quang suffered his most brutal assault to date on Jan. 18 when thugs attacked him and an associate in broad daylight, beating them in the head with bricks and rocks about 500 meters from their Bible college, according to reports at the time. The attackers then kicked the men after they fell to the ground.
Quang was left with a broken nose, ribs and facial injuries, including damage to his teeth and jaw.
Last November, police and hired thugs ransacked Quang’s Mennonite center and detained several Christians, including Quang’s son and two pastors, for not having identification documents that officials previously had confiscated and not returned, according to a report on the website of Release International, an organization dedicated to helping persecuted Christians around the world.
Police interrogated the Christians for two hours before releasing them, the report said.
Last June, a mob of more than 100 police and hired thugs brutally attacked Quang, other pastors and Bible college students and ransacked the interior of at Quang’s Bible school in My Phuoc in Binh Duong province.
Quang and five other church members became known internationally as the “Mennonite Six” when they were imprisoned in 2004, although Quang was granted amnesty the following year, according to the report.
In 2010, authorities beat Quang unconscious and bulldozed his home to make way for an urban renewal project, according to a report on the website of Vietnam Human Rights Defenders.
He then moved back to Ben Cat where the church had earlier established a worship and training center, but thugs repeatedly threw stones and garbage at the building, the report said. After the building had been broken into, church leaders temporarily suspended activities there.
The other Mennonite organization in Vietnam, the Vietnam Mennonite Church, has legal status and an officially authorized theological training program, the report said.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.