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As Government Repression Rises, Vietnamese Christians Gather to Pray for Religious Freedom

Vietnamese Catholics and non-Catholics pray for civil rights and religious freedom

ICC Note:

In addition to the arrests mentioned in this article, Vietnamese Christians throughout the country still face regular intimidation and harassment by authorities, especially in rural communities. One Christian evangelist in the country from a small village recently told ICC that the village regularly broadcast a tirade condemning Christian activities and singling the evangelist out for social discrimination. Outside pressure and international scrutiny are necessary to keep the Vietnamese government from allowing or even increasing greater repression of the countries Christians.

By Br. Paul

11/7/2012 Vietnam (AsiaNews.it)- Activists and members of civil society in Vietnam, including a large Catholic mission, have launched a campaign for human rights, freedom of thought and religion, against a Government that continues to repress internal dissent with arrests and prison. Recently the Church of Ho Chi Minh City celebrated a special mass, to pray for peace and justice in the country, which was attended by about 2500 people Catholics and non Catholics. The obsessive control of intellectuals, the repeated invasions of "security forces" in the private life of those who promote activities, initiatives or writing in favour of democracy, have increased the urgency for the birth of a movement aimed at curbing abuses committed "in the name of the law".

Among the most recent cases is the story of Nguyễn Thị Phương Uyên, a student at the Faculty of food industry in Ho Chi Minh City. The girl is being held in prison in the province of Long An, and her parents are barred from visiting her. She has been charged with the usual and generic, "propaganda against the State". She is guilty of having composed a song in protest against Beijing's expansionism in the South China Sea. So far the appeals of her university companions have proved useless. They have also written a letter to Vietnamese President Trương Tấn Sang, asking for her release.

However, the arrests and convictions of dissidents and bloggers are relentless: 24 September three people were sentenced to 26 years in prison. On 30 October a court in the former Saigon mandated 10 years in prison for two musicians, Tran Vu Anh Binh and Viet Khang, also guilty of "propaganda against the State".

Catholics are responding to the government's wielding of the axe with masses and prayers, in the footsteps of the Redemptorists of Saigon, with a special mass celebrated on 28 October last "for peace and justice" in the country. The function was attended by about 2,500 people, including many non-Catholics to witness the value and the example provided by the Church in the struggle for rights and the full dignity of the human being. In his homily, Fr. Mathew pointed out that "the Vietnamese people want peace, justice and freedom" and that prayers and intentions are "for our brothers and sisters who were convicted or imprisoned". The priest wishes to see a peaceful struggle, fought under the banner of prayer "for our people, for freedom and democracy in the nation".

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