Bishop Kiệt tells slandered Vietnamese priests to continue defending victims’ rights
Frs Đặng Hữu Nam and Nguyễn Đình Thục received the visit of Mgr Joseph Ngô Quang Kiệt. The two priests have defended the rights of the victims of the Formosa disaster. Since the start of the year they have been the victims of a slander campaign led by the authorities. Mgr Joseph Ngô Quang Kiệt’s presence is a great honour for us,” said Fr Đặng Hữu Nam; “he himself experienced the persecution we live today."
(AsiaNews) – Bishop Joseph Ngô Quang Kiệt, accompanied by some religious from the Châu Sơn monastery, visited Phú Yên parish to show his support and provide comfort to two priests in Vinh diocese persecuted by the Vietnamese government.
The two clergymen are Fr Đặng Hữu Nam, vicar of Phú Yên parish (Hà Tĩnh province), and Fr Nguyễn Đình Thục, vicar of the Song Ngọc Parish (Nghệ An province).
Starting in April 2016, the two priests have backed the victims of Vietnam’s worst environmental disaster who have been protesting against Vietnamese authorities for failing to pay compensation.
In an attempt to silence Frs Đặng Hữu Nam and Nguyễn Đình Thục, national and local authorities in Quỳnh Lưu district have mobilised the media in a campaign based on false accusations against the two.
Starting in early May, district authorities have organised a series of major rallies and demonstrations against the two clergymen. Recruited by the local government, protesters have even called for Fr Nam to be sent to prison for 20 years or sentenced to death.
On 22 May, Mgr Ngô Quang Kiệt secretly visited Fr Nam and Fr Thục, who are now heavily hampered in their pastoral work. The prelate comforted the two priests and encouraged them to continue with their initiatives in support of the thousands of people affected by the catastrophic spill of toxic sewage, which was a big blow to Vietnam’s central provinces.
The bishop listened to the stories of attacks and violence against the two vicars and noted that he has closely followed developments in the environmental situation in Central Vietnam.
"Mgr Joseph Ngô Quang Kiệt’s presence is a great honour for us and an encouragement to our journey of justice for the poor victims,” Fr Đặng Hữu Nam said. “I feel that the archbishop is close to us and supports us. In the past, he himself experienced the persecution we live today."