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Officials yet to allow visit to jailed blogger

Sources say Redemptorist priests have petitioned for access to Marie Ta Phong Tan, who has staged a month-long hunger strike

ucanews.com reporter, Asia Desk
Vietnam

May 15, 2012

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Government authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have refused to acknowledge a request by local Redemptorists to visit a jailed female blogger in poor health to administer a sacramental anointing of oil, local Church sources said yesterday. “City authorities had not replied to petitions” as of the weekend submitted by two Redemptorists seeking access to blogger Marie Ta Phong Tan, the sources said. “I ask the government to allow me to visit and anoint Tan at her request,” Redemptorist Father Chan Tin wrote in his petition letter dated May 7. Fr Chan Tin, 93, who is Marie Ta Phong Tan’s godfather, said her lawyer Nguyen Thanh Luong had visited her and reported that she had begun a hunger strike more than a month ago and “is in very poor health and suffers low blood pressure. So she wants local Redemptorists to anoint her.” “This sacrament is very important to the sick,” Fr Tin said. Earlier this month, Redemptorist Father Antoine Le Ngoc Thanh also petitioned officials from the city People’s Court, People’s Procuracy and other state agencies to allow him to administer the sacrament to the blogger. Fr Thanh said he had pledged to do nothing beyond administering the sacrament, and that permission by local authorities would show that they took religious freedom seriously. Fr Thanh said Tan is being detained in a prison in Binh Thanh district and faces a charge of allegedly disseminating anti-government propaganda. Tan, 44, a former public security official who converted to Catholicism, used to attend liturgical services at Redemptorist-run Our Lady of Perpetual Help church in the city before her arrest seven months ago. Related stories: Journalist released from prison
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