Press Release: In the wake of intense, orchestrated wave of attacks against Catholic priests and parishioners in the Vinh Diocese by Vietnamese government

The Federation of Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media

11th May, 2017

The Federation of Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media, before the international community, protests and sternly condemns the waves of against Catholic priests in the Vinh Diocese by Vietnamese authorities.

Last year, a steel mill owned by the Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Corporation discharged 12,000 cubic meters of liquid toxic waste into the sea through drainage pipes in what was the worst incident of its kind in the country. The waste killed 70 tons of fish, negatively impacting the population of Vietnam’s central provinces. About 250 km of coastline suffered serious environmental catastrophe and more than 40,000 fishermen lost their livelihood.

In an agreement signed by the Formosa Plastics Corporation and the government without any public hearings, Hanoi accepted compensation to the tune of US$ 500 millions on behalf of the victims. The money, however, has never been handed out to the victims.

As the waiting gets longer, people’s sense of injustice and resentment has grown deeper against the government, accused them of being corrupted and failed policies.

Fr. Đặng Hữu Nam and Fr. Nguyễn Đình Thục, pastors in the deanery of Thuận Nghĩa - where the Formosa environmental disaster caused greatest impacts, have been instrumental in informing and supporting the residents in collecting evidence of adverse effects the chemical waste on sea creatures, on human beings and their livelihood, and eventually in their stance against the authorities when they showed no sign of following through with their promises.

The people’s action had been resonated by voices of support from the Diocese’s Committee for Justice and Peace, the presbytery of Vinh Diocese, and countless number of people at home and overseas who signed on a petition to force Formosa Corporations to take a more active approach in solving the negative impacts on Vietnamese lives, as well as to close the toxic plant indefinitely while the area being cleaned up. Despite people’s tremendous effort, to date, Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation is still allowed to exist.

On May 4, Formosa Plastic Group has just announced its plan to expand 1 billion dollars more in steel joint ventures in Vietnam. All along, the Vietnamese government keeps covering up for and protecting this company so that it can continue to dump toxic waste in the sea without any intention of cleaning up the waters.

In an attempt to silence the priests, since the beginning of this year, Vietnamese government has mobilized a large number of state-run media outlets in a campaign of false accusation against them. When these tactics failed, the authorities have employed peripheral organizations of the Communist Party including the Women movements, Youth associations, and veterans’ organizations. A veterans’ organization in Nghe An Province even went so far as to threaten Bishop Paul Nguyễn Thái Hợp of Vinh with violence demanding that the two priests be removed from their posts.

In the most extreme episode, since May 7th, 2017, a series of large meetings and protests against the priest have been held in the Quỳnh Lưu County. Students, including grade schoolchildren, have been forced to participate in protests and to shout yell slogans, condemning the priests as anti-revolutionaries, demanding that they should be arrested and some demanded them to be executed.

The scenario and its tone is a reminiscence to that of the infamous public denunciations taken placed during the land reform period (1953 – 1956) during which tens of thousands of innocent people were killed to satisfy the needs to eradicate the remainder of whom the newly installed government viewed as anti- communist.

As it usually happens in Vietnam, these protests serve as a prelude for an imminent crackdown on the priests and those who dare to back the victims of the environmental disaster. The Federation of the Vietnamese Catholics Mass Media sternly condemns and denounces before international community the inhumane conducts and the violent actions of public authorities against Fr. Đặng Hữu Nam and Fr. Nguyễn Đình Thục, and the victims of the Formosa environmental disaster; and asks the communist government of Vietnam to comply as follow:

1) Stop immediately the terroristic acts against the Catholic priests of Thuận Nghĩa.

2) Stop the persecution of the Catholic Church and other religions.

3) Solemnly abide the law promulgated by its own government and return all seized properties to the Catholic Church and other religions in Vietnam.

4) Absolutely respect Human Rights and Religious Freedom as the Charter of the United Nations affirmed.

With God as our Providence, his law as our moral compass, we would be in solidarity with, share and fully support our brothers in Christ, the victims of the Formosa environmental disaster, and the diocese of Vinh in their would be worst kind of bearings. We earnestly call for all Congresses, governments, political parties of all nations, the Human Rights organizations, the Amnesty Internationals, the International Commission on Human Rights, any organizations with special concerns for Freedom and Human Rights in Vietnam, and the World Communication Agencies to please accompany us in the struggle for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in Vietnam.


Rev. John Tran Cong Nghi
Director of VietCatholic News Agency

Rev. Anthony Nguyen Huu Quang
Vice Director of VietCatholic News Agency
Editor of the People of God Monthly Magazine ( in Australia )

Rev. Stephen Luu Thuong Bui
Editor of the People of God Monthly Magazine (in Europe)

Rev. Paul Van- Chi Chu
Vice Director of VietCatholic News Agency

The Federation of Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media