Vietnamese police arrested 76 Christians, including students and teachers, in a raid of a Mennonite church in Binh Duong province, north of Ho Chi Minh City.
According to the Fides news service, more than 300 plainclothes and security forces stormed into the church complex and violently beat residents on the night of June 9 under the pretext of an "administrative research". Male and female students of the Bible school, teachers and church leaders were beaten, arrested, interrogated and then released on the next day. Police continued their raids of the church over the following days.
The Mennonite worship center in Binh Duong had not been authorized by the government. In the past, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and other Mennonite Christian congregations have suffered severe repression by the police. Church leaders were sentenced to eight years in prison for "proselytizing" and "non-authorized teaching".
In 2007, Baptists and Mennonites received from the Vietnamese government an official license to fulfill their religious practices. Christian Solidarity Worldwide, in a statement, deplored "the use of excessive force, completely unjustified, by the police and security against Mennonite Christians, including teenagers" following the most recent spate of government repression.
Mennonites number about 1.5 million members throughout the world, especially in the United States. Since the end of the nineteenth century, they have had significant numbers in Latin America and Asia. They live in small communities that espouse living in poverty and charity.
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