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    » 12/17/2015, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    Nguyen Van Dai, a Christian lawyer, detained for "propaganda against the state"



    About 20 police officers broke into the dissident’s home and took him into custody before he could meet with European Union officials to discuss human rights. Searching for evidence, they seized his computers and Christian symbols. Jailed between 2007 to 2011, Dai was one of the first to sign a petition that called for an end to Vietnam’s one-party state. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Vietnamese authorities on Wednesday detained dissident lawyer Nguyen Van Dai on charges of “propaganda against the state”. A Christian, he had served four years in prison on the same charges.

    A week ago, masked assailants beat him for giving public lessons on human rights. Yesterday, Dai, 46, was on his way to meet with representatives of the European Union, which had held a bilateral talks with Vietnam in Hanoi on human rights a day earlier. After searching his home in the capital Hanoi, at least 20 police officers took him into custody.

    According to the testimony provided by his wife, Khanh, police broke into their house around 8:30 am and, in search of evidence, seized two laptops, one desktop, some USB keys, a camera and two video cameras, a notebook of Home Bookkeeping and "everything that had a logo for human rights."

    “They arrested my husband under Article 88 and informed us that he would be temporarily jailed for four months at B14 Prison [in Hanoi],” she said. “A T-shirt with the words ‘Hong Kong today, Vietnam tomorrow,’ [. . .] and all of our reading on civil society produced by the U.S. Embassy were among the things taken,” she added.

    Police also confiscated all of their material about Christianity. “We believe in Jesus. I told them that was our religion . . . but they ignored my words,” she said.

    Founder of the dissident Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam in 2006, now called the Vietnam Human Rights Centre, Dai was one of the original signatories to the 2013 online petition on Freedom and Democracy (backed by the Catholic Church) which called for an end to Vietnam’s one-party state.

    Between 2007 and 2011, Dai served four years in prison for anti-state propaganda. His license to practice law has since been revoked. Under Article 88 of the Penal Code, he faces between 3 and 20 years in jail if convicted.

    According to Human Rights Watch, between 150 and 200 bloggers and activists are currently held in Vietnamese prisons for exercising and defending fundamental human rights.

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    See also

    14/05/2009 VIETNAM
    Bishop of Ban Me Thuot to renew the mission among the Montagnards
    In an exclusive interview, Mgr Vincent Nguyen Van Ban, the newly-consecrated bishop of central Vietnam, talks about his episcopacy’s priorities: poverty, health care and minority rights. Traditional songs and readings in local languages enliven the ceremony.

    21/02/2007 VIETNAM
    Fr Nguyen Van Ly arrested in Huế
    The priest was arrested after a building that is part of the Bishop’s Palace compound was searched. Known for his battles in favour of freedom of religion, he has already spent ten years in prison.

    17/02/2014 VIETNAM
    Thousands of Vietnamese, Christian and non, march for the release of Catholic lawyer
    The Redemptorists in Hanoi and Saigon organize a candlelight vigil and pray for the release of Le Quoc Quan . Tomorrow the appeal process begins, concern over his state of health, physically weakened by two weeks of hunger strike. Hospitals in the capital refuse medical treatment to a Hmong Christian leader.

    27/08/2008 VIETNAM
    After 30 years Caritas is reborn in Vietnam
    The government approves bishops’ request to use the name for their “charitable and social activities.” This will allow for a more unified approach at a national, diocesan and parish levels. However Caritas Internationalis does not get the go ahead.

    16/06/2009 VIETNAM
    Catholic lawyer and human rights advocate arrested
    Paul Le Cong Dinh is charged with anti-state propaganda, distorting the country’s socio-economic policies, dividing the population and “colluding with domestic and foreign reactionaries to sabotage the Vietnamese state.”



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