Jailed Pastor Abused in Vietnam After Speaking To US Delegation  

By BosNewsLife Asia Service with reporting by Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife


Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh at a court hearing in Gia Lai, March 26, 2012.


HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife)-- The wife of jailed Vietnamese pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh fears for her husband's life after he spoke openly about mistreatment in prison, according to friends familiar with the situation.

Tran Thi Hong reportedly said that her husband, a 45-year-old missionary pastor, "is being punished" for speaking "honestly" to a U.S. delegation about the "tortures, threats and mistreatment" he endured behind bars.

The treatment included regular beatings, having shards of glass mixed in with his food, being held in stocks, and having to stay extensive periods in solitary confinement, activists said.

Pastor Nguyen was detained in Gia Lai Province of Vietnam's Central Highlands region in April 2011 on charges linked to his devoted "Christian witness," supporters say. In July 2012, he received an 11-year prison term for "undermining national unity."


On May 25, a delegation from the U.S. Consulate visited Pastor Nguyen in jail. "Despite having been warned in advance not to say anything negative against the state of Vietnam" he decided to disclose the information about the abuse, Christians said.

During Tran's visit in May of this year, she reported that Nguyen's health had deteriorated to "a potentially life-threatening degree due to ongoing physical and psychological abuse in prison," added advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).

SEVERAL AILMENTS

She reportedly said that although Nguyen suffered from acute sinusitis, joint inflammation, gastritis, and high blood pressure, "he was denied medical treatment." Additionally, Tran was apparently not allowed to bring him any medicine.

Tran also experienced persecution because of her religious freedom advocacy, according to activists closely following the case.

Last year, Tran was taken from her home and brought to the office of the People's Committee of Hoa Lu Ward where she was interrogated for three hours and beaten by plainclothes agents, resulting in injuries to her head, knees, legs, hands, and feet, Christians said.

Before these beatings, officials reportedly tried to prevent her from attending a scheduled meeting with David Saperstein, the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. The meeting proceeded after Tran informed the ambassador's delegation that she had been seized and forced to return home.

MORE VIOLENCE 

Soon after in May 2016, Tran was allegedly detained and violently interrogated an additional three times. "During one of these interrogations, Tran's 18-year-old son tried to intervene to protect his mother but was then grabbed and choked by police who had him bound and arrested. Thankfully, he was released later that same day," VOMC said in a statement.

VOMC said it had urged Christians to "Pray that Pastor Nguyen will receive protection and healing while awaiting release from imprisonment."

In the meantime, the group said, "may God use him mightily to bring words of encouragement and eternal life to many in prison," adding that it also urged prayers for his wife and family and that "the hearts and minds of those in authority will be softened."

Vietnamese authorities have often denied wrongdoing. However, activists say that devoted Christians and those not part of churches allowed by the Communist government remain targets for persecution.

 

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