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Vietnam bars dissident priest from traveling abroad

Pastor stopped at airport after speaking to European Union representatives about religious persecution
Vietnam bars dissident priest from traveling abroad

Father Joseph Nguyen Duy Tan gives a homily at a Mass at Tho Hoa Church. (Photo courtesy of Father Le Ngoc Thanh)

Published: June 12, 2018 10:25 AM GMT
Updated: June 12, 2018 10:27 AM GMT

A priest who is known for speaking out against Vietnam's communist government has been banned from leaving the country

On June 11, Father Joseph Nguyen Duy Tan, pastor of Tho Hoa parish in Dong Nai province, was stopped at Tan Son Nhat International Airport by public security officers in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Airport officers said in a document that Father Tan "has not yet been allowed to travel abroad at the request of the Public Security Department of Dong Nai province." They did not give more details.

They also asked the priest to contact the department to deal with the case.

Father Tan, 40, and 25 other priests from Xuan Loc Diocese were due to fly to Malaysia. The other priests were not banned.

In his complaint to the German embassy in Hanoi and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Father Tan accused the government of arbitrarily violating his human rights. 

"I doubted that the reason could result from my talk to European Union representatives at a meeting in a pagoda on May 16," Father Tan said.

Interfaith Council of Vietnam members including Father Tan presented examples of religious persecution by government authorities and police to diplomats from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the European Union at Giac Hoa Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City.

Father Tan told diplomats that all religious organizations have to apply to government authorities for permits for their activities, even building a toilet or a fence.

"The asking-and-granting structure strengthens authorities' abuse of power to intervene in internal affairs of religions," he said.

Father Tan uses social media to speak out against the government's social and economic policies, corruption and crackdowns on activists. He has called on people to overthrow the communist government and boycott national elections.

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