Catholic Priest Nguyen Dinh Thuc Blocked from Travel to Tokyo to Meet with Pope

Catholic priest Nguyen Dinh Thuc with banners protesting Cybersecurity bill in 2018

Defend the Defenders, November 21, 2019


Vietnam’s authorities have barred Catholic priest Nguyen Dinh Thuc from leaving the country to Japan where he would participate in welcoming Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) during the Vatican leader’s visit to Tokyo this week.

Speaking with Defend the Defenders, priest Thuc said security officers in Noi Bai International Airport blocked him from taking a flight from Hanoi to Tokyo at midnight on Wednesday [November 20]. Police officers said the blockage is based on the national security concerns under Decree 136 of the communist government.

Security officers in Noi Bai International Airport’s station also wrote in a working minute that the priest can appeal the police’s decision to the Immigration Department under the Ministry of Public Security.

Priest Thuc is from Song Ngoc parish in Vinh diocese. He has been assisting local Catholic followers in demanding the Taiwanese chemical giant Formosa to pay adequate compensation for the consequences caused by its toxic discharge into Vietnam’s central coastal region in 2016 which had devastating negative impacts on the local fishing industry and tourism.

He is among brave priests criticizing the Vietnamese communist regime’s human rights abuses.

He is among many Catholic priests being barred from going abroad for pastoral missions. Last year, Catholic priest Nguyen Ngoc Nam Phong was also not permitted to leave to Australia where he was invited to take a lengthy course on religion.

Along with imprisoning and harassing local activists, Vietnam’s communist regime has also been blocking hundreds of local activists from going abroad for meeting with their international partners and doing international advocacy in the human rights field.