Released from prison, Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh arrived in America with family

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For immediate release, July 29, 2017

Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, a Vietnamese prisoner of conscience, arrived in Orange County, California last night with his wife and five children following a deal that has seen him released early from an 11-year prison sentence in exchange for going into exile in the United States.

“We welcome the early release of Pastor Chinh but deplore the fact that he and his loved ones must go into exile,” said Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, CEO & President of Boat People SOS (BPSOS). “We are also concerned because close to a hundred other religious prisoners equally deserve freedom.”

Pastor Chinh was unjustly imprisoned in 2011 on the vague charges of “undermining national solidarity”. While he was behind bars, authorities also targeted his wife, monitoring her closely and harassing her in an effort to prevent her from advocating for her husband’s release. In 2016, after Mrs. Hong had met with a visiting US diplomat to discuss her husband’s case, she was subjected to a series of interrogation sessions at a local public security office in Gia Lai Province; on three occasions she was tortured by police. In protest, she went on hunger strike twice, for periods of nine and four days respectively.

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Pastor Chinh, wife Tran Thi Hong and their five children welcomed by well-wishers at LAX, July 28, 2017 (photo by BPSOS)


In 2014 US Congressman Alan Lowenthal (Democrat, California) adopted Pastor Chinh under the Defending Freedom Project of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. This project encourages members of the US Congress to adopt prisoners of conscience and advocate for their freedom. Over the past three years, Congressman Bill Posey (Republican, Florida) has repeatedly raised the case of Pastor Chinh to both the American and Vietnamese authorities. Earlier this year, as part of the Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Commissioner Jackie Wolcott “adopted” Pastor Chinh and his wife Tran Thi Hong. Last year, six UN human rights experts issued a joint statement condemning the mistreatment of Mrs. Hong. The US Department of State has worked tirelessly to secure Pastor Chinh’s freedom.

Many human rights organizations have spoken out on behalf of Pastor Chinh and Mrs. Hong. Most notable are Vietnamese Women for Human Rights, Vietnam Multi-faith Roundtable, the Coalition Against Torture – Vietnam, and the Association for the Support of Victims of Torture. Recently, 50 human rights organizations in Vietnam and around the world issued a joint statement calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Pastor Chinh.

With public support and in collaboration with the Vietnamese Grace Lutheran Church, we endeavor to help Pastor Chinh’s family of seven to transition smoothly into their new life in America. We also hope to support Pastor Chinh and Mrs. Hong in pursuing their aspiration to promote the right to religious freedom of Montagnard Christians in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.

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BPSOS is a national Vietnamese-American community-based organization with multiple branch offices in the United States; its international operations are based in Thailand.

Contact information: email: Địa chỉ email này đã được bảo vệ từ spam bots, bạn cần kích hoạt Javascript để xem nó. ; tel: 703-538-2190; fax: 703-538-2191

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