A 48-year-old Vietnamese Montagnard Christian, Nay Y Blang, has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for conducting prayer meetings in his home.
A member of the Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ, Mr. Blang was convicted on January 26 without access to legal representation. Local media reported that he was found guilty of inciting others to 'infringe upon the interests of the State.'
Mr. Blang has been previously fined and imprisoned for practicing his faith.
In April 2005, he was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison by Phu Yen province for 'undermining the unity policy,' and in September 2022, he was fined four million Vietnamese Dong (approximately GBP £130) by the People's Committee of Song Hinh district for 'abusing democratic freedoms and belief freedoms.'
Members of the Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ belong to the Montagnard minority ethnic group, comprising around 30 indigenous tribes.
The majority of Montagnards are Christians and reside in Vietnam's central highlands, where they have a history of conflict with the Vietnamese government.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: "CSW is deeply concerned at the lack of due process in the court hearings of Mr. Blang and over 100 Montagnards.
"The Vietnamese government views the simple act of prayer as a direct threat to their power and legitimacy. No person should fear jail for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief."
"These recent developments show that the human rights situation in Vietnam continues to deteriorate. We emphasise that this is part of a wider pattern of the targeting of religious and ethnic minorities across Vietnam that is often more severe in rural areas, and we urge the Vietnamese authorities to cease all harassment of religious and minority ethnic groups across the country."