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  • » 09/30/2013, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    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 had 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.

    Similar 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 .

    Among 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 .

    On 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.

    Finally , 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 .

     

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    See also

    09/06/2011 VIETNAM
    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.

    10/02/2014 VIETNAM
    Imprisoned Catholic lawyer on hunger strike. Human Rights groups pressure Hanoi
    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.

    21/01/2010 VIETNAM
    Ho Chi Minh City, sentences dissidents accused of subversion to five to 16 years
    Among them Paul Le Cong Dinh, a 41 year-old Catholic lawyer. Additional penalty of house arrest. The trial was held between tight security. U.S. diplomat: verdict contrary to human rights obligations.

    20/01/2010 VIETNAM
    Ho Chi Minh City, trial begins against four pro human rights activists
    Among them is Paul Le Cong Dinh, a Catholic lawyer and critic of the communist government. They risk from a minimum of 12 years to death. Democratic movements abroad denounce the "growing repression" of those fighting for freedom of expression.

    29/01/2010 VIETNAM
    Police use sledge hammers on home of lawyer who denounced the Vietnamese premier
    The lawyer accused the prime minister of having violated the law, allowing Chinese companies to exploit the bauxite deposits in the Central Highlands. The incident takes place in a climate of violent repression by the authorities also against Catholics, among whom there is a growing concern.



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