» 09/30/2013, 00.00
Hanoi : thousands hold candlelight vigil for release of Catholic lawyer Le Quoc Quan
J.B. An Dang
On October 2 the first hearing in the activist trial, accused of tax fraud . The faithful carry signs and banners asking the government for his release. Similar initiatives in Ho Chi Minh City and Vinh , his native diocese. During the months of captivity he was not allowed to meet family or lawyer.
Hanoi ( AsiaNews)
- Last night, thousands of Catholics in Hanoi attended a candlelight vigil of
support and solidarity for the Catholic lawyer Le Quoc Quan, in jail for months
on suspicion of "tax fraud". On October 2, the activist
will appear in the court for the first day of his trial, originally slated for July
and suddenly canceled by the court. He
been preparing for court for weeks with fasting and prayer, but a last
minute "indisposition" of the judge led to a delay in the hearing. The
parish of Thai Ha (pictured) was packed with the faithful, with signs and
posters calling on the Vietnamese government for the "immediate release"
of the lawyer who has been in jail since last December . Most
of the participants in the event are young university and college students in
Hanoi, who have decided to challenge the ban imposed by the school authorities
and still participate in the peaceful protest.
initiatives - torchlight processions and prayers - were held yesterday evening
also in Ho Chi Minh City and Vinh , the scene of a
violent attack against the bishop and the faithful by the local authorities
and the state media which is also the hometown of the Catholic lawyer . Le
Quoc Quan is also a member of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the
Vietnamese bishops' conference .
the most important and significant Catholic activists in Vietnam , the lawyer
was arrested by officials of the government of Vietnam December 27, 2012 with
false and trumped-up charges of "tax evasion". An act strongly
condemned by many human rights organizations around the world .
29 January 2008, during a protest at St Joseph's Cathedral in Hanoi against the
expropriation of buildings that had housed the Apostolic Nunciature , he had
intervened to save a Hmong woman from the brutal violence of the police and
military . The
woman from the Christian minority had only wanted to bring flowers to the statue
of Our Lady, inside the embassy . The
same Le Quoc Quan has often been subject to beatings and violence during
demonstrations, searches and psycho-physical harassment. Among
the most serious incident dates to 19 August 2012, when a group of agents in
the capital stopped him at 8 pm while driving home and beat him several times ,
causing serious injury to the neck, back and knees.
, on December 18 of the same year he published on his blog an article critical
of the management of the power by the Vietnamese Communist government , against
any idea of amending the Constitution that - to date - provides the one-party
rule . In
the piece, also republished by the BBC , he wrote that "they may well send
me to jail, but for this I will not stop believing in the value of the human
being ." Nine
days later , on December 27 , he was arrested while taking his daughter to
school . Police
raided his offices , seized documents and accused him of tax fraud. He
is locked up in Hoa Lo Prison , without any contact with the family or his
lawyer and if convicted could face up to three years in jail and a hefty fine .
Another Vietnamese Catholic human rights advocate on trial
Peter Pham Minh Hoang, professor at the University of Ho Chi Minh City is accused of activities aimed at overthrowing the government and of joining a democracy group. His arrest has caused concern and protests worldwide. Fears that the sentence has been decided before the start of the trial.
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Le Quoc Quan is protesting against authority’s refusal to grant him access to legal and religious texts, including the Bible. Since December 2012, he has not been allowed visits from a priest. On His appeal begins February 18, he will defend himself. Vice - Minister of Vietnam: Hanoi respects human rights. International Community calls for release of political prisoners.
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