Vietnam: Archbishop under virtual house arrest

 Hanoi Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet is virtually under house arrest with phone spying equipment and cameras deployed openly from buildings near his residence.

VietCatholic reports the archbishop's office must remain closed while he is required to limit his outside activities.

From the rooftop of Hoan Kiem primary school, right after the archbishop's office and from nearby buildings, a network of spy equipment deployed overtly to spy telephone conversations, and monitor all activities of the office.

The overt deployment of spy equipment is also used as a tactic of intimidation threatening anyone who wants to contact with the archbishop, the agency says.

Other measures to isolate Archbishop Ngo have also been employed. A church at Mac Thuong in Ly Nhan, Ha Nam province, was raided by a hundred thugs yesterday who went inside the church shouting obscenities at those who were praying there.

The thugs threatened that parishioners' lives would not be easy until the archbishop is removed.

Mac Thuong pastor Fr Phuong said that his parish had no means to defend themselves. Mac Thuong is a small parish with only 300 faithful and most men in the parish have to work far away from home.

Meanwhile, correspondents in Hanoi reported that a number of elderly people have been hired at 20,000 VND (AUD $1.30) per day to go to the archbishop's office masquerading as Catholics to call for his resignation.

Elsewhere, seven Degar Montagnard Christians are among those being held in a Vietnamese prison after they were detained as part of a major government backed crackdown on "illegal" house churches in Vietnam's Central Highlands, BosNewsLife reports.

Among those arrested is 41 year old church leader Pinh who was taken from his home in the village of H'Luk in the province of Gia Lai on 10 August this year, said the Montagnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI) which has close contacts with relatives of the believers.

"Upon their arrival to the police station the security police force punched Pinh in the head trying to intimidate him," MFI told BosNewsLife. "They informed him that he was being arrested for illegally conducting worship services every Sunday in his home."

Seven days later six other Christians were arrested in Gia Lai province, MFI said.

MFI said it was concerned about the situation of the detained Christians as "no criminal charges have been made and no due process has been given." The group has said the Vietnamese authorities have stepped up efforts to arrest Christian leaders and other believers who refuse to join the Communist government's backed churches.

Tags: Hanoi Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, JB An Dang

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