Hanoi, families of imprisoned Catholics appeal to religious leaders to pray for their release
» 09/02/2011 11:55
by Paul N. Hung
Ten families in the province of Nghe An have written a letter to Catholic, Protestant and Buddhist leaders. They ask for help and prayer, to secure the release of their children “kidnapped” by police. Masses and vigils across the country for religious freedom in Vietnam. Reporters Without Borders and Redemptorists support the Catholic parents struggle.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Ten families of Nghe An province have sent a letter to the Vietnamese religious leaders, asking them to pray for the “seizure” of their children by the police. Among them are six young men, prisoners in the B14 prison in Thanh Tri district of the capital Hanoi. The authorities have jailed them on charges of attempting to “overthrow the government of the people” and their relatives have thus far received no reports on their health condition. In the last month 15 young Catholics have been arrested and imprisoned without trial. So far three have been released, but the other 12 remain in prison awaiting to appear before the judges.
The parents claim the innocence of their children, stressing that in the past they took part in charitable and social activities in the public interest promoted by the church and the parish. As evidence of their deep bond to Vietnam, the young people also attended short courses on how to better serve the motherland. However, the Hanoi authorities believe they conspired to topple the government and the Communist Party, through “non-violence” (see AsiaNews 29/08/2011 Catholic activists and students to be put on trial very soon). In reality the young people demonstrated against the confiscation of the Church lands and the executive’s “subjection” to Beijing in the South China Sea border dispute.
Addressing Catholic, Protestant and Buddhist leaders, Vietnamese and international media, the relatives of imprisoned young people wrote: “We believe that your fervent prayers will reach God. Only God can save our children – add the authors of the letter – and lift them up from oppression and injustice”. “Your prayers – continue the parents – are helping our children to accept their physical hardships and imprisonment, holding fast to their faith and ideals.”
The Vietnamese Youth Network The Lên Đường joins the parents’ chorus of protest, denouncing “the arrests and violations of the communist government of Vietnam” and calling for “the unconditional release of the young patriots.” Their call is joined by the Redemptorists in Vietnam and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), who have urged the Government not to use “terrorist” methods to intimidate citizens.
Meanwhile, in many parishes and churches all over Vietnam, from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, and Nghe An province masses and vigils of prayer of the faithful are being held for the release of the young people arrested and religious freedom in the country.