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  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato

    » 04/01/2014, 00.00


    I, a poet and South Vietnamese soldier, found God and the Virgin in communist prisons


    The 68-year old J.B Nguyễn Hữu Cầu spent nearly 39 years in prison in Hanoi. He is one of the longest serving political prisoners in the Asian nation. Released on presidential pardon for poor state of health. In prison he encountered faith in Jesus. Rosary and Way of the Cross, sources of strength to overcome pain and forgive his captors.

    Ho Chi Minh City ( AsiaNews) - During his years in prison he encountered Christianity and decided to convert, receiving baptism, and later was able to transform the chains that kept him imprisoned, consisting of 90 rings, into a rosary recited up to five times a day. Faith alone enabled him to face and overcome nearly 40 years spent in prison in Vietnam, while his body was marked by deafness and almost total blindness caused by suffering. However, his spirit is still able to give thanks for the gift of faith received. And even forgive his captors : "The love of God and the Virgin Mary has changed me. I no longer hate my 'brothers and sisters' (of the communist regime )".

    This is the story of 68-year old J.B Nguyễn Hữu Cầu (born in 1945), poet, musician, composer and captain of the army of the Republic of South Vietnam before the reunification in 1975.  He is one of the longest serving political prisoners in the Asian nation, since the seizing of power by the communists in the North. Arrested at the end of the war, he spent six years in a re-education through labor camp and in 1982 was  imprisoned, because of his work as a poet and composer critical at times of the communist regime.

    In 1983 he was sentenced to death in a case against him for denouncing widespread corruption among senior army officials in Hanoi and for the crimes committed by soldiers against the people. Following this he was also charged with sabotage and of having damaged "the regime's image". He has always declared his innocence and authorities later commuted his death sentences to life in prison.

    For years he lived in complete isolation, on the margins of a labor camp immersed within a forest. The years in prison have deeply marked him, leaving him almost incapable of hearing, blind in his left eye and with serious problems of vision in the right. On March 22 , 2014, after almost 39 years, he was freed, following an amnesty granted by Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, an act of charity rather than a political move, given his health conditions, as confirmed by his son.

    In recent days, he spoke of his experience in prison, to the newspaper Catholic News, in particular about the theme of faith and his conversion to Christianity during captivity . " Easter 1986, 28 years ago, I was baptized and christened in the prison by Fr. Joseph Nguyen of the Society of Jesus". The priest taught him the fundamentals of Christianity, prayers and catechism . He would recite seven Rosaries and make the Way of the Cross five times a day.

    To those who approached him in prison, he used to repeat "I was shackled by a long chain of 90 links. I made the chain my Rosary with 50 links. This is my first Rosary. Perhaps the "most severe" Rosary in the world". A cellmate, brother Paul, gave him a small cross made with coconuts, and " I have also composed a song dedicated to the Holy Cross: The Holy Cross comes to me from the deepest depths in the world [...] it sustained men in this earthly prison". He adds: " I ​​have always believed in the love of God".

    Free from the bonds and the chains of communist prisons, the Vietnamese poet and dissident confesses that "the love of God and the Virgin Mary have changed me . I no longer feel resentment for my 'brothers and sisters' (of the regime). We all have the same roots. We descend all from King Hùng Vương. This is why we must love one another. And once more I believe in the Trinity and the Virgin Mary. Which helped me to overcome the pitfalls of fate and prevented me from killing myself during the years in jail".


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    See also

    28/08/2013 VIETNAM
    Fr. Dominique, sowing seeds of faith in Vietnam amid war and Communist persecution
    In the '70s, at the time of the conflict, he led his community to a safe place and founded a new parish. Imprisoned by the regime authorities, he was able to keep the "spirit" alive following the example of Card. Van Thuan. His witness led to several vocations, which have enabled the diocese of Saigon to grow.

    05/10/2012 VIETNAM - UNITED STATES
    Death of "hell’s poet": from Hanoi’s death camp to the grace of Baptism
    In his verses Nguyen Chi Thien, who died Oct. 2 at age 73 in the United States, described 27 years spent in prison in Vietnam. Banned pen and paper, he memorized all his poems, later collected in two volumes entitled "The Flowers of Hell." The discovery of Catholicism in his friendship with the priests imprisoned in communists labor camps.

    20/09/2005 VIETNAM
    Christians forced to choose between denying their faith or fleeing their homes
    Entire families are forced out of their homes if they refuse to deny their faith. Here is a witness who was persecuted for six years, a victim of threats who was beaten and expelled from his village.

    30/10/2012 VIETNAM
    Anti-government propaganda, Vietnamese court condemns two musicians
    Vo Minh Tri, better known as the Viet Khang, and his colleague TranVu Anh Binh have to serve four to six years in prison. The two posted on a foreign site, critical of Hanoi, some of their songs deemed "propaganda against the state". Appeals from human rights activists and international organizations call for their release.

    18/11/2009 VIETNAM
    Fr. Nguyen Van Ly suffers a stroke in prison
    The priest, a symbol of the struggle for religious freedom and democracy in Vietnam is semi-paralyzed, but can speak and responds to treatment. He was admitted to the military hospital in Hanoi and is being followed by the chief of cardiology. Family members report that he is "well treated" and "thanks" the doctors.

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