Vietnamese at London vigil remember truck victims

Candles were lit to read ‘39’ (The Tablet/Yui Mok, PA Wire/PA Images)

A Mass and prayer vigil was held at London’s Vietnamese Catholic pastoral centre to remember the 39 people from Vietnam found dead in a truck container in an Essex car park last month. Source: The Tablet.

The Mass on Saturday was led by Fr Simon Thang Duc Nguyen, parish priest and also a chaplain to the Vietnamese community in England and Wales. He himself escaped Vietnam in 1984.

Members of the congregation read from Scripture and red candles were lit in the image of “39”.

It was originally thought the victims were from China, but police have now confirmed that all 39 were from Vietnam, where poor job prospects, smuggling gangs, and environmental disasters are among factors pushing people to leave. Police there arrested eight people earlier this week on suspicion of involvement. The Nghe An province police chief Nguyen Huu Cau told Vietnam News Agency: “Based on what we are learning from the suspects, we will actively launch investigations to fight and eradicate the rings which bring people illegally to Britain.”

Fr Nguyen told those gathered at the vigil: “Today we gather to remember the people who have departed. These people who used to live among us, who dined with us. Today they are no longer with us. We show our condolences and sympathies for the people who have lost their lives on the way seeking freedom, dignity and happiness.

“We ask God to welcome them into his kingdom even though some of them were not Catholic but they strongly believed in eternal peace, so we pray for them.

“We pray for those who have lost their sons and daughters, their loved ones at this very challenging time.”

Fr Nguyen’s church has been working with police on the disaster. Fr Nguyen has also been asking Catholics and non-Catholics to come forward with any information that might be useful. He said also that many other Vietnamese had died this way, but their deaths had received no media attention.

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Vietnamese at London vigil to remember the 39 (The Tablet)

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