March 21, 2017
Vietnamese Catholic Blogger Facing Ill Treatment in PrisonVietnamese Catholic Blogger Facing Ill Treatment in Prison
Church Militant, March 20, 2017
A Vietnamese Catholic blogger, arrested on phony charges, is being mistreated in prison.
In 2011, Nguyễn Đặng Minh Mân spoke out on her blog against Chinese imperialist policy. In July of that year, Minh was arrested for her freelance journalism.
After 18 months in pre-trial detention, she was convicted by the Communist Vietnamese government and sentenced to eight years in prison. Minh was charged with trying to “overthrow the government of the people” under Article 79 of the Vietnamese Penal Code.
“Sometimes the prison guards slapped her face,” Minh’s father said. “At present, my daughter has to spend 10 days of isolation in a small room, a very dark and smelly cell.”
We were locked up in the section for political prisoners but in different cells.Tweet
Maria Tạ Phong Tần, another Catholic blogger in prison with Minh, described the ordeal. “We were locked up in the section for political prisoners but in different cells,” she said. “No one is allowed to go in, not even medical personnel, canteen staff or security guards.”
She added that an “outsider” was allowed into the cell on occasion who cruelly “hit Minh Man, causing bodily harm.”
Communist Vietnam has a history of cracking down on and arresting Catholic journalists critical of the government.
In October 2016, Communist security forces arrested Catholic blogger Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh in her hometown, on the south-central coast of Vietnam.
Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, known by the blog name Mother Mushroom, was arrested on the morning of October 10 in Nha Trang. Quỳnh was walking with an elderly woman to visit her son when security forces arrested Quỳnh and raided her home the same morning. Quỳnh is being charged with “conducting propaganda” in the Communist nation.
Dr. Pham Chi Dung, chairman of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, said the arrest of the blogger Mother Mushroom is a sign that Vietnam is taking a step backward on human rights. According to Amnesty USA, the single mother of two has faced harassment in the past and is well known by the government for her activism. If convicted, Mother Mushroom may face up to 20 years in prison.
Vietnam was once a lighthouse of Catholic missionary activity under the French. In the 1600s, French missionaries helped bring about the conversion of thousands of souls, the rates of convesion reaching their peak at the turn of the 20th century, when as many as 100,000 were baptized each year into the Faith. In spite of pockets of bloody persecution, the Faith continue to thrive — until the mid-20th century when the Communists took over and Catholic persecution began again in earnest.
Samuel Gregg, writer at the Acton Institute, has said, “To accept the notion of religious liberty, grounded in the duty of all people to seek the truth, is to accept the limited state. And that is something that no Communist government can ever truly acknowledge.”