08/11/2015, 00.00
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Ho Chi Minh City, Mennonite pastor released from prison after five years

The activist was imprisoned for having fought for the right to land in the Mekong Delta. Still has to serve five years of probation but has no right of residence in his city and does not have a house to live in.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - The Vietnamese authorities have released the Mennonite pastor Dung Kim Khai, after five years in prison. He had been convicted in 2010 for "attempting to overthrow the people's government." The man was released from prison yesterday at 6pm and was accompanied by the police to Binh Thanh district of Ho Chi Minh City. The pastor must serve five more years of probation but, as he himself told Radio Free Asia, he does not have a house to live in. The authorities, he says, "do not accept that I do not have a place to reside."

Khai was arrested in August 2010 along with six other activists for having fought for the people's right to land in the region of the Mekong Delta, demonstrating against the provincial and national government accused of seizing land and selling out to construction companies . In May 2011, the Court of Ben Tre (in the south), sentenced him to six years in prison.

Vietnam recognizes the Mennonite Church but not the branch run by the pastor, the "Cow Shed Church" which has about 10 thousand members. The community is named after the barn that it uses as a meeting place, after authorities confiscated a previous place of worship.

In August 2011 the Court of Appeal reduced the sentence imposed in Dung Kim Khai by one year. The man has always denied the charges of attempting to overthrow "the government of the people", adding that his criticism are addressed to the "government of the Communist Party."

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