March 19, 2012
A Vietnamese court sentenced eight Christians to up to two-and-a-half years in prison for "disturbing the social order and promoting separatism," adding that the sentence was "humanitarian" and "benevolent" because it could have been harsher, Asia News reports. After the Christians are released, they will each spend an additional two years under house arrest. They were arrested in May 2011 in one of the clearest recent examples of the country's violence against its ethnic minorities; authorities cracked down on Christians of the Hmong minority in the country's northwest, leaving at least least 49 people dead and arresting hundreds. Officials were quoted as saying that the Hmong were lured by unidentified "individuals with ill intentions" who spread rumors that a "king" would arrive and lead them to a promised land.