Ho Chi Minh City (Agenzia Fides) - The Vietnamese police raided and arrested 76 Christians, including students and teachers of a Mennonite Church in Binh Duong province, north of Ho Chi Minh City. As reported to Fides, in the raid – which took place on the night of June 9, more than 300 plainclothes and security forces stormed in the church complex and violently beat residents, under the pretext of an "administrative research". The 76 people that were in the church, including male and female students of the Bible school, teachers and church leaders, were beaten for no reason, arrested, interrogated and then released the next day. In the following days the church underwent a number of other police blitz.
The Christian center of Binh Duong belongs to a Mennonite community and has not been authorized by the government. In the past, says to Fides, the NGO "Christian Solidarity Worldwide", other Mennonite Christian congregations suffered severe repression by the police and church leaders were sentenced to eight years in prison for "proselytizing" and "non-authorized teaching". In 2007, however, the Mennonites received from the Vietnamese Government, along with the Baptists, the "official licensed" to carry out religious practice. CSW deplores "the use of excessive force, completely unjustified, by the police and security against Mennonite Christians, including teenagers".
The Mennonites are part of the Anabaptist churches. They owe their name to Menno Simons (1496-1561). Today there are about 1.5 million members throughout the world, especially in the United States. Since the end of the nineteenth century they are also present in Asia. They live in small communities based on poverty and charity. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 26/06/2014)