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Expression of concern on arrest of church leaders

14 June 2004

15 June, 2004

Your Excellency,

The World Council of Churches has received with deep concern the reports of
the recent arrest of church leaders in Vietnam. These arrests have been made to
prevent the clergy from exercising their fundamental right of religious freedom
and liberty. The right to religious freedom and liberty has been a major concern
of the World Council of Churches since its inception. This right is inseparable
from other rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Council is concerned about the recent incidents that have taken place in
Vietnam, particularly the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Rev. Nguyen
Hong Quang, a Mennonite minister. He has been under detention since last week.
Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang is a respected member of the clergy of the Mennonite
Church in Ho Chi Minh City. He is a committed Christian and a law-abiding citizen.

It is therefore unfortunate that his detention has been ordered for performing
legitimate activities allowed under the laws of Vietnam.

In the circumstances we call on Your Excellency to convey our concern to the
authorities in Vietnam. The Council appeals to the Government of Vietnam to
look into the case of Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang and to order his immediate release.

Yours faithfully,

Guillermo Kerber Mas
Acting Coordinator, CCIA