Prisoners of conscience in Vietnam not allowed to go to Mass or even have a Bible

We could not even attend Mass on Sundays, nor read the Bible. We had a great desire to receive the sacraments and spiritual support from a priest, but the prison heads forbid us this”

lequocquanby NH – Asianews | 03/20/2014 11:33
No health or spiritual care for 61 prisoners of conscience. No decent food and their human rights are not respected. Many of them are sick and in some cases their condition is serious. The cases of Lê Quŏc Quân and Maria Tạ Phong Tần.
Hanoi ( AsiaNews) – They can not go to mass, have the spiritual comfort of a priest nor even a Bible.  This is the condition of 61 (data dating to 2013 ) prisoners “of conscience” in Vietnam, a situation that becomes even more unbearable during Lent, confirmed by a letter from a blogger.

Prison guards in Hanoi and Thanh Hoa province, in a clear violation of human rights and religious freedom will not allow the lawyer Lê Quốc Quân, or bloggers Maria Tạ Phong Tần and Paul Trần Minh Nhat receive a Bible from their relatives.

The latest denunciation of the situation is contained in a letter written by blogger Paul Trần Minh Nhật to the former Archbishop Nguyễn Văn Nhơn, who was also president of the Episcopal Conference of Vietnam. ” … We could not even attend Mass on Sundays, nor read the Bible. We had a great desire to receive the sacraments and spiritual support from a priest, but the prison heads forbid us this”.

The case of blogger Maria Tạ Phong Tần is of serous concern.  She was sentenced to 10 years in prison and is now imprisoned in Yên Dinh camp no. 5, Thanh Hoa province. It is renowned as one of the harshest labor camps.  She would like to have a Bible to hear the Word of God.  Her younger sister reports: “The guards used activist prisoners to beat my sister. They insulted my mother, though my mother died, setting herself on fire in front of the People’s Committee in Bac Lieu province, July 30, 2012 , to protest against this injustice”.

Currently prisoners of conscience are denied health care and spiritual care, they are denied decent food and their human rights are not respected. Many of them are sick and in some cases severely so. Miss T., a relative of a prisoner of conscience is called “crushed by the regime. The mother is dead, but still they will not leave her in peace. Perhaps they fear the truth and prisoners of conscience”. “It’s really horrible – reports the blogger Thanh Nghien – when someone offends the dead. This is the dirty work of prison guards and managers of local prisons. A while ago I was in jail and I know that the guards admire and fear the prisoners of consciousness”.

Why? Maybe because they don’t need permission to believe in God