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  • » 02/17/2014, 00.00


    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.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews ) - At least 3 thousand Vietnamese, Christian and non, have joined the candlelight vigil organized yesterday by the Redemptorist priests in Hanoi and Saigon. The participants prayed for the health of Le Quoc Quan and many other activists, dissidents, journalists and bloggers in prison for their battle for the defense of human rights and religious freedom in the country.

    Tomorrow, February 18, the first hearing of the appeal process for the Catholic lawyer is scheduled to take place. Convicted on (false) charges of tax fraud, he has been on hunger strike since February 2 to protest the prison authority's refusal to provide him with legal and religious texts, including the Bible. His family and lawyers warn the state of his health his "worrying".

    Catholic sources report that he is very "weak" from lack of food and the seasonally cold and wet climate in Hanoi. In addition, the prison authorities have repeatedly prevented him from meeting his lawyers (the last episode dates back to February 14), ahead of his appearance before the Court of Appeal . His case, along with that of hundreds of other dissidents and activists, has galvanized popular discontent towards the Communist leadership and the regime in Vietnam.

    Periodically arrested and released after short periods in the past, Le Quoc Quan was detained again by Vietnamese government officials December 27, 2012 , with false and trumped-up charges of " tax evasion" an act strongly condemned by many pro - human rights associations around the world . The sentence of 30 months in prison and a hefty fine (56 thousand dollars) arrived on October 2, at the end of a lightning trial that lasted a mere two hours. International organizations, groups of Catholic activists and representatives of the main religions in Vietnam have come to the defense of the dissident, who had fasted and prayed for a long time ahead of the trial..

    In recent days, the story of a Hmong Christian leader who was rejected urgent treatment in hospitals in the capital has also emerged. Duong Van Minh, 52, suffers from a severe kidney disease.  His relatives tried to have him admitted to various hospitals, but none wanted to hospitalize him. Originally from the northern province of Tuyen Quang, he was a guest of the community of Redemptorists in Hanoi; it seems that there is a long-standing dispute between the Vietnamese authorities and the religious minority, on the arrangements for the burial of the dead, is behind the refusal to treat him.

    In the past, the Hmong leader spent five years in prison (1990-1995) and has been repeatedly arrested and detained for questioning. During a previous admission to a military hospital, the police forced him to pay for medical expenses for his treatment.

    The Vietnamese government has been pursuing a harsh campaign against dissidents, bloggers, religious leaders (including Buddhists), Catholic activists and entire communities. A clear example of this was seen last year in the diocese of Vinh, where national media and the government promoted a smear campaign and targeted attacks against the bishop and faithful. The repression also affects individuals guilty of claiming the right to religious freedom and respect for citizens' civil rights and ethnic minorities such as the Hmong are targeted by Hanoi authorities because they are accused of collaborating with the United States during the war .


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    See also

    28/01/2014 VIETNAM
    Hanoi, date set for Catholic lawyer and dissident, Le Quoc Quan’s appeal
    Appeal set for next February 8. The lawyer was sentenced to 30 months for "tax evasion" , but sentence really motivated by his activism critical of the Communist Party and the government. "Satisfactory" health conditions. Only permitted "official" newspapers to read in his cell, forbidden the Bible.

    27/03/2009 VIETNAM
    Sentence against faithful of Thai Ha upheld. Catholics protest injustice
    The appeals court has reconfirmed the sentence against the 8 who were calling for the return of land belonging to the parish. This morning, 5,000 Catholics marched for 12 kilometers to the site of the trial, and were stopped by 1,000 police officers in riot gear with guard dogs. The state television channel accuses the Redemptorists, and recommends that they be arrested. In Saigon, 5,000 Catholics and non-Catholics - together with local political authorities - took part in a prayer vigil. The eight defendants are "like Jesus."

    11/04/2011 VIETNAM
    Prayer vigils "respond" to the arrests of Vietnamese Catholics
    Soon after the sham trial against a non-Catholic lawyer, defender of human rights, and attacks against those who peacefully followed the debate, the authorities fear a united front that might arise between believers and dissidents.

    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.

    17/12/2015 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.

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