Prayer Vigils for victims of the Formosa environmental disaster
On the evening of Sunday April 15th, in response to the appeal of the Justice & Peace Commission of the Diocese of Vinh, parishes in the Vinh Diocese organised prayer vigils for victims of the Formosa environmental disaster.
The water pollution crisis broke out probably months before; and the toll of the disaster could be seen evidently in four provinces in central Vietnam: Ha Tin, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue.
Vietnam government admitted that at least 115 tons of free-swimming fish, 140 tons of farmed fish, and 67 tons of clams were killed. The real figures must be times higher than these. Besides, tons of shrimp, squid, and other kinds of aquatic animals were killed as well. The toxic waste spill also left fishermen jobless in the four most affected coastal provinces. The Diocese of Vinh was hit hardest as the Formosa company, who discharged toxic industrial waste into the sea through their underwater drainage pipes locate right in the region.
At My Khanh parish, despite threats from the local authorities, Fr. Anthony Đặng Hữu Nam, organised a peaceful Eucharistic adoration to pray for dispersed families, whose members have to leave everything behind to migrate to large cities looking for jobs.
Fr. Đặng Hữu Nam is one of priests who, in early May 2016, were denounced by the Vietnamese government for organising protests Formosa Plastics.
The Taiwanese company voluntarily paid US 500 million to clean up and compensate coastal residents affected by the spill, but slow and uneven payout of the funds by the Vietnamese government has prompted protests that continue to be held more than two years later.
On Thursday April 5, 2018, as communist authorities stepped up their crackdown on dissents on the anniversary of the Formosa environmental disaster, a court in Hanoi opened a trial of six activists of a pro-democracy group called the Brotherhood for Democracy. They were accused of attempting to overthrow the government.
Prominent human rights lawyer Nguyễn Văn Đài and five others are accused of working with foreign and domestic organizations to oppose the state, change the political system and eventually overthrow the government. They face the death penalty if convicted.