A Lutheran pastor imprisoned in Vietnam has been transferred to another camp and kept in solitary confinement because he stood up for the rights of other prisoners, according to his wife.
Tran Thi Hong went to visit her husband, Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, who was being held in Phuoc Prison in Binh Duong, only to be told that he had been transferred to Xuan Loc Prison in Dong Nai province.
“I arrived at Xuan Loc Prison the following day, and prison officials told me ‘Chinh was not allowed to call his family or inform them that he had been relocated, because he refused to accept his crimes,'” she told ucanews.com.
Chinh, 50, fought for religious freedom for Christians from ethnic minority groups in the Central Highlands. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2011 for undermining national solidarity, under Article 87 of the Vietnam penal code.
Since then he has been moved to three camps and has not been not allowed to call his family, even when his mother died.
In August, Chinh and other religious prisoners went on hunger strike to demand that they be allowed to call their families for five minutes a month, as are other prisoners. Chinh was accused of leading the hunger strikers, and moved to Xuan Loc Prison as punishment.
According to his wife, “He is in poor health, he suffers high blood pressure and has severe sinusitis. I fear that he is too weak to complete the rest of his sentence.”
An activist based in Ho Chi Minh City said that prisoners of religion and human rights are treated cruelly in prisons, being forced to work hard and kept in poor conditions.
“They are transferred to camps far away from their homes, and their relatives who live in poverty cannot afford to visit and give food to them,” he told ucanews.com.
The activist said prison officers treat them inhumanely, as way to “force them to confess their crimes and accept unfair convictions.”
The Political and Religious Prisoners Friendship Association based in Vietnam reported that they have the names of 100 prisoners of conscience being kept in prison. The association estimates that hundreds of other prisoners from ethnic minority groups in the highlands and northern provinces are detained in camps for being involved in religious activities.
- Pray for Pastor Chinh, for good health and for prison authorities to allow him access to medical treatment as needed. Pray that he and his wife will know the peace and presence of the Holy Spirit around and within them at this time.
- Pray for charges against Chinh to be dropped and for his release from prison.
- Pray for the many Christian prisoners in Vietnam, for strength of faith in prison, for access to food and medicines and for provision for their families, who often struggle with poverty.
- Pray for prison authorities and guards to see the reality of the faith of Christians in prison, and through their testimony and faith, also come to know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
Hebrews 13 vs 3: “Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.”