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  • » 08/03/2011, 00.00


    Hanoi: conviction of dissident Cu Huy Ha Vu upheld on appeal

    Kelly Ann-Nguyen

    Hundreds of people demonstrated for the activist’s release. For the judges he is guilty of propaganda against the state and the party : seven years in prison and three under house arrest. Crackdown on the communist regime to curb internal dissent. Catholics concerned about the conditions of Fr. Van Ly.
    Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The support expressed by hundreds of Vietnamese gathered outside the Supreme People's Court in Hanoi, was not enough: the judges have in fact confirmed on appeal the sentence to seven years in prison for Cu Huy Ha Vu, 53 year old lawyer and son of one of the leaders of the revolution. The decision at first instance was in April last and raised protests from Vietnamese and human rights activists around the world. The court affirmed he had "denigrated the party, state institutions and its policies." Vu in the past has supported the struggle of Catholics to defend religious freedom.

    Today at 8.30 am in Hanoi the appeal process started, chaired by Supreme Court Judge Nguyen Son. Outside, hundreds of protesters (pictured) showed up in support of the Vietnamese activist, but the police dispersed the crowd. The hearing continued until 7 pm, when the court issued the verdict confirming the sentence of seven years in prison, plus three more under house arrest.

    The Cu Huy Ha Vu story - son of the poet and revolutionary Cu Huy Can, confidant of Ho Chi Minh - has raised "an unprecedented wave" of popular support. A year ago, he - although not Christian - defended to the hilt the faithful arrested for taking part in a funeral, held at a cemetery located on land disputed between Catholics and the government (see AsiaNews 07/05/2011 59 Catholics from Con Dau arrested for accompanying funeral). In court, the activist, defended himself saying that he "never opposed the Communist Party", but claimed the importance of a "multi-party system."

    For weeks, the Vietnamese authorities have been cracking down on dissidents and protesters. Fr. Nguyen Van Ly is also being targeted by police, who was arrested again while he was in the Archdiocese of Hue. The police have taken the priest and activist to prison on board an ambulance, given his precarious state of health.

    Stopped for the first time in 1977, Ly has spent 17 years in prison for his fight for human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam. He was struck by a heart attack in 2009, but authorities have not given him adequate medical care. Although partially paralyzed, the consequences of disease, the priest has not been spared jail where he was released in March suffering from brain cancer.

    Catholic sources report that his condition is critical. However, the authorities have ordered his umpteenth arrest, because he is charged with distribute "anti-government pamphlets" during his period of freedom.

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    See also

    26/07/2011 VIETNAM
    Father Nguyen Van Ly arrested again
    The priest, one of the founders of a movement for democracy that calls for an end to single party rule, is serving a sentence of 8 years in prison. He was released last year for serious health condition.

    03/08/2012 VIETNAM
    Hanoi censors and patrols funeral of Catholic dissident’s mother
    The elderly woman died after setting herself on fire to protest the unjust imprisonment of her daughter. The authorities want to stop and interrogate those who pay homage to the family. The trial of Mary Ta Phong Tan will open on August 7, she faces up to 20 years in prison for "propaganda against the state".

    18/11/2009 VIETNAM
    Fr. Nguyen Van Ly suffers a stroke in prison
    The priest, a symbol of the struggle for religious freedom and democracy in Vietnam is semi-paralyzed, but can speak and responds to treatment. He was admitted to the military hospital in Hanoi and is being followed by the chief of cardiology. Family members report that he is "well treated" and "thanks" the doctors.

    07/11/2009 VIETNAM
    No end to authorities battle against religion in Vinh
    Riot police and bulldozers to remove a statue of the Virgin from a Catholic cemetery, a priest and his parishioners reported to the police for bringing the author of threats to a priest to the station.

    12/01/2010 VIETNAM
    In Dong Chiem Catholics beaten, a journalist wounded and a priest threatened
    Attacked by uniformed and plainclothes police, who took his camera, the reporter was abandoned unconscious and bleeding in the street. Solidarity of the bishops of North Vietnam for Father Van Lien, accused by authorities of inducing"the faithful to commit crimes."

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