Jailed Vietnamese pastor’s wife severely beaten, son arrested, family harassed

May 20, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

vietnamVietnam, May 19, 2016: The wife and family of imprisoned Vietnamese pastor and religious freedom activist Nguyen Cong Chinh suffered beatings and mistreatment at the hands of the authorities on three occasions between 11 and 13 May; their 18 year old son was arrested when he tried to protect his mother. This continues a pattern of official harassment of the family which the pastor’s wife, Tran Thi Hong, describes as “intolerable”. Mrs Hong is herself a member of Vietnamese Women for Human Rights (VNWHR). Her husband was jailed for eleven years in 2012, ironically accused of having “colluded with foreign reactionaries” in “anti-government activities” in order to “falsely accuse Vietnam of suppressing religious freedom”.

On 11 May, Mrs Hong was forced to attend the People’s Committee Office by several plain clothes police officers and members of the State-sanctioned Vietnam Women’s Union. They questioned her about contacts with overseas media, her “unauthorised, unapproved, illegal” Lutheran faith and her role in VNWHR.

She was also questioned about reports she had made of her abduction from home on 14 April, when security agents beat her for three hours and interrogated her about a meeting she had had on 31 March with the US Ambassador-at-Large on International Religious Freedom. The beating left Mrs Hong with injuries to her head, legs, feet and hands.

The following day, four female officers interrogated Mrs Hong, pinning her to the ground while pinching and pulling at her skin. Then on 13 May, ten police officers arrived at her home at 6am, to take her for further interrogation. Her 18 year old son tried to intervene, but he was violently restrained before his hands were bound and he was arrested. When the police took Mrs Hong and her son to the police station, they left her other children, aged between five and thirteen, unattended in the family home.

The police prepared a false statement for Mrs Hong. It said that it was illegal for her to meet the US Ambassador-at-Large, that the police had never prevented Mrs Hong from meeting the US delegation and had never confiscated her property – all of this completely untrue. Finally, the statement said that Mrs Hong was in violation of the law because the church where she practices is an unrecognised and “subversive” organisation. When she refused to put her name to the false statement, four female police officers abused her physically for a further three hours, including forcing chopsticks into her mouth. Mrs Hong was released by the police at about noon that day, and her son was freed later in the day.

– barnabas team

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