A Vietnamese Christian jailed for almost 16 years for demanding land rights and religious freedom has been released. Yet his future remains uncertain as he battles health issues stemming from his time in prison.
Y Ngun Knul was released from prison last week after spending nearly two decades in Nam Ha and Thanh Chuong prisons in Nghe An province.
He was sentenced in in 2004 in Vietnam’s Dak Lak province to an 18-year term, later reduced, for launching protests calling for a Protestant church shut down by authorities to be reopened and for the members of his community to be allowed to live according to their traditions, Radio Free Asia reports.
“As those rights were being taken away, people were becoming upset, and so I called on everyone to take part in the protests. As a result, I was arrested and sentenced to 18 years in prison,” Knul said, speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
Held at Nam Ha and Thanh Chuong prisons in faraway Nghe An province, Knul was visited by his family only four times during his time behind bars, he said.
His family meanwhile lost their house and land. And now, suffering from poor health because of his time in prison, he is unsure about his future, he said.
“I have kidney failure and high blood pressure and had a gastrointestinal hemorrhage,” he said, adding, “Now I can eat only bowl of rice per day because I have stomach problems that make it hard for me to breathe.”
“My foot is swelling, too, making it hard for me to move.”
“I would like to go to a hospital for treatment, but I have no money now,” he said.
Vietnam ranks 21 on Christian Persecution Watch Dog, Open Doors, 2020 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, but this does not stop the rate at which Jesus Christ is winning the heart of the people unto Himsef.