11/12/2011, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Hanoi, two Falun Gong adherents sentenced to three years in prison

Vu Duc Trung and Le Van Thanh collaborated on a radio channel denouncing the persecution of the group in China. In Hanoi, more than 40 followers of the movement were arrested for organizing a demonstration outside the Chinese embassy.
Hanoi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A court in Hanoi sentenced two activists of the Falun Gong movement to three and two years' imprisonment. They are accused of having collaborated on a radio program that broadcasts information to Cina.Vu Duc Trung, 31, and his brother Le Van Thanh, 36, are in jail since last June. They worked in the short-wave radio channel Sound of Hope based in New York. For years the transmission broadcast worldwide denounced abuse against members of Falun Gong and other groups persecuted by the government in Beijing.

Under pressure from the Chinese government, Hanoi has increased repression against the Falun Gong, which has several hundred members in the country. To date, however, the authorities deny the existence of the group.

Tran Dinh Trien, lawyer and activist for human rights representing the two young men, said that "In Vietnam it is not illegal to be members of the Falun Gong, no one can be prosecuted for it." On 8 November the Vietnamese police have arrested 40 followers of the group as they demonstrated in front of Chinese embassy in Hanoi to request the release of the two young men arrested.

Falun Gong is a spiritual movement based on a mixture drawn from Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. It preaches "truth, compassion and tolerance", as well as a regular practice of meditation and exercise to achieve better health. Until the late '90s, the movement had a large following in China, with over 70 million followers, among them several members of the Communist Party. The repression of the group began in 1996 with the banning of certain books deemed dangerous by the authorities of the party. Following the arrest of some followers, April 25, 1999 over 10 thousand members of the group demonstrated outside government headquarters to protest against the prohibition of their worship. In response, Beijing unleashed a systematic persecution, with imprisonment for persons engaged in worship or dissemination of material. According to data from the same Falun Gong, in 10 years more than 3 thousand followers have died in prison from torture and beatings, and there have been 63 thousand documented cases of torture.

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