Vietnamese Pastor Jailed for ‘Undermining National Unity’

Posted March 27th, 2012 at 3:30 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A Vietnamese court has sentenced the pastor of a banned Mennonite church to 11 years in prison for undermining national unity.

State media reported Tuesday that Nguyen Cong Chinh was found guilty of writing and spreading material that slandered government authorities and “distorted Vietnam's domestic situation.” It also accused him of having affiliations with anti-government groups.

Specifically, Chinh was reported to have repeatedly complained to outside organizations about Vietnam's alleged mistreatment of religious minorities and lack of religious freedom.

The 43-year-old pastor was arrested last year in the central province of Gia Lai. He was convicted Monday after a brief one-day trial.

The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said Chinh's conviction is “yet another demonstration” that Vietnam disregards freedom of religion.

Analysts say Vietnamese who worship in state-sanctioned churches generally enjoy freedom of worship in communist-controlled Vietnam.

But rights groups say many unregistered minority sects, including Chinh's Mennonite group, continue to face harassment, arrest and imprisonment.