28 August 2016
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    » 03/24/2016, 09.32

    VIETNAM

    Hanoi: Catholic blogger sentenced to five years for "defamation of the Party"



    Nguyen Huu Vinh was arrested in 2014 and charged with having "violated the state's interests." His assistant sentenced to three years in prison. Both say they are innocent. The "Ba Sam" blog published articles and essays against the Hanoi government, getting millions of views.

     

    Hanoi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Hanoi People's Court has sentenced the famous Catholic dissident and blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh to five years in prison for publishing articles against the state. His assistant Minh Thuy Thuy will serve three years in prison.

    According to the court, their blog "distort Party policies and State law, and defame certain individuals". Both defendants have denied the charges.

    Nguyen Huu Vinh, 60, is a former police officer and has been linked in the past with the Vietnamese Communist Party. Arrested in May 2014, Huu Vinh and his assistant were charged after six months of unjustified detention for violation of Article 258, which punishes the "abuses of freedom and democracy" and "violating State interests".

    Founded in 2007, the blog "Ba Sam" published articles and essays against the Hanoi government, getting millions of views. The blog also hosted a fiercely critical forum of Beijing's "imperialist" policy in the South China Sea.

    Around 200 people staged a protest outside the Court as the sentence was being read. The police had to intervene to restore order. Interviewed by Radio Free Asia, one of the defense lawyers he said that "the prosecution provided very weak evidence that has been countered by the defense and the prosecution failed to respond to our arguments." "The most surprising thing about this trial - he added - is that they gave Vinh five years in prison, which is the maximum [for this type of crime]".

    In past years, Vinh was also subject to beatings after he covering trials against pro human rights activists and abuse against the Catholic community in the capital.

    For several years, Vietnam has seen a harsh campaign by the government against dissidents, bloggers, religious leaders (including Buddhists), Catholic activists or entire communities.

    Last year for example, media and government carried out a smear campaign in the Diocese of Vinh against the local bishop and faithful.

    Repression also affects individuals, guilty of claiming the right to religious freedom and respect for citizens' civil rights.

    According to the international activist movement Human Rights Watch (HRW) currently there are between 150 and 200 bloggers and activists detained in Vietnamese prisons, guilty of having wanted to exercise (and defend) basic human rights.

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    See also

    12/06/2009 VIETNAM
    Violations of religious freedom on the rise in Vietnam
    A priest is banned from carrying out his pastoral work because “there is no need for religion” among his parishioners. Another one is warned by his parishioners that his life is in danger. Another still is stopped without reason at the airport and is told that he will be further interrogated.

    18/09/2013 VIETNAM
    Bishop of Vinh concerned by regime attacks, appeals for international support
    In an interview with AsiaNews , Msgr . Paul Nguyen Thai Hop speaks of "a dangerous and worrying situation" for the Christians of the diocese, who are under the scrutiny of the Vietnamese authorities. He calls for the respect of human rights and the release of jailed parishioners. He also calls for " solidarity and support " for an end to " lies and slander ."

    26/02/2009 VIETNAM
    Intimidation campaign against lawyer for faithful of Thai Ha
    With no explanation, a search has been conducted of the office of the lawyer handling a lawsuit against the media of the regime. A letter from the Lawyers' Association details the accusations against him by the police, and an article in the Security newspaper discusses fraudulent income.

    20/11/2012 VIETNAM
    The feast of Vietnamese martyrs comforts persecuted Christians today
    The memory of the 130,000 martyrs of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries helps us to face the challenges of consumerism and compromise with power. The prayer for the martyrs of the present times, the Catholics arrested and persecuted by the government in Vinh, Hanoi, Thanh Hóa, Long An, Xuân Lộc, Cà Mau.

    19/12/2013 VIETNAM
    For Vinh Bishop, jail and campaigns of lies will not stop the Church's mission
    For Mgr Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, the Catholic community is trying to participate actively and with "enthusiasm" to the "New Evangelisation". Although the authorities have attacked the diocese, the faithful "are not afraid," showing instead "strong faith and unity." Our goals, said the prelate, remain "dialogue, peace, love and forgiveness."



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