02/08/2018, 11.11
VIETNAM

A Buddhist Hoa Hao family is on trial for gathering in prayer

They were commemorating a friend's death. The police stopped the members of the sect and confiscated motorcycles and registration documents. The arrest occurred after two months at the hands of unidentified civil servants and civilians.

Hanoi (AsiaNews / RFA) - The trial of the four members of a family belonging to the Hoa Hao Buddhist sect, which is not recognized by the government, will take place tomorrow at the district court of An Phu, in the southwestern province of An Giang.

The accusation is that of "disturbing public order" during a tough confrontation with the authorities, which took place last year in their home. Bui Van Trung, son Bui Van Tham, daughter Bui Bich Tuyen and wife Le Thi Hen were also accused of "hindering officers on duty" in the 19 April 2017 incident, which saw police beat up the faithful who had gathered in the house to pray.

The previous day, the traffic police, accompanied by unidentified men in civilian clothes, had stopped the Hoa Hao Buddhists who went to the Bui family's house to observe the anniversary of the death of a friend and confiscated their motorcycles and took their documents. "Some people went to meet the authorities to recover their bikes and were attacked and beaten by thugs who rushed to the scene," says Bui Bich Tuyen.

Two months later, on June 26, 2017, Trung and his son Bui Van Tham were arrested by security officials and unidentified civilians as they returned from a visit to a nearby town, the young woman continues. "On the way back, hundreds of people assaulted them and took them away without showing a warrant for their arrest," she says. "Later, my mother Li Thi Hen and I were summoned by the local police. When I arrived, they handed me a government order containing the accusation. My mother was sick, so they brought her home. " Bui Van Trung and Nguyen Hoang Nam are now detained in the An Phu district detention center, while Tuyen and her mother Le Thi Hen are free awaiting trial.

The Hoa Hao Buddhists in An Giang Province do not obey the Hoa Hao Church Committee, approved by the Hanoi government. The sect has about two million followers across the country, but the authorities impose strict controls on dissident groups that do not follow the official branch. Human rights groups argue that the authorities of An Giang persecute followers of unapproved groups, prohibiting public reading of the sect's founder's writings and discouraging faithful worshipers from visiting pagodas.

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