23 May 2017
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  • » 08/05/2015, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    Two Christians arrested for "anti-government activities" released after 4 years in prison



    They are Catholic blogger Paulus Le Van Son, and of the Protestant leader Nguyen Van Oai. The pair were arrested without a warrant, and during the trial their legal assistance was restricted. In recent months they were pressured by the authorities to extort a confession. Other dissidents still in prison.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The Vietnamese authorities have released two Christian activists after having served the full term of the sentence imposed on them in trial. The are the well-known Catholic blogger Paulus Le Van Son, and the Protestant leader Nguyen Van Oai, at the forefront in the defense of social rights. The two were released from prison in recent days, after having undergone a sham trial often used by the authorities and the Communist Party to target dissent.

    Arrested in August 2011 during a series of raids against bloggers and human rights activists who had links with groups and religious organizations, environmental groups and anti-Chinese patriots, Le Van Son and Nguyen Van Oai were taken to a Hanoi prison.

    Both were given a sentence of four years and four more on probation for trying to "overthrow the legitimate government" based on the controversial article 79 of the Vietnamese Penal Code. The pair had been arrested without a warrant and during the trial were not given recourse to adequate legal assistance.

    Speaking to Radio Free Asia (RFA) after their release, Van Oai states that in recent months he was subjected to repeated pressure to sign an act in which he pleaded guilty. Once signed, the guards said he would be released. Later, they were asked to write a personal confession. However, he always refused and continued to profess his innocence.

    However other activisits such as Dang Xuan Dieu and Ho Duc Hoa, arrested during a Hanoi crackdown in 2011. They must serve 13 years in prison, the most severe penalty imposed on members of the movement.

    The story of Paulus Le Van Son - such as those of Le Quoc Quan, Cu Huy Ha Vu and dozens of other jailed bloggers and activists, shows how Communist leaders in Hanoi regularly use an iron fist against domestic dissent.

    The authorities have also targeted Buddhist and Catholics religious leaders, as well as entire communities. Last year for example, both media and government launched a smear campaign and targeted attacks against the local bishop and Catholics in the diocese of Vinh.

    Repression also affects many individuals, who are penalised for claiming the right to religious freedom and respect for citizens' civil rights.

    According to the activist international  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

    05/12/2011 VIETNAM
    Vietnamese blogger arrested, family demands to know where he is and how he is
    Police raid home of writer Huynh Ngoc Tuan, who spent 10 years in prison. His nephew arrested, fines against him and his two children announced. In November they were charged with "propaganda against the Party and State."

    28/08/2015 VIETNAM
    Hanoi frees two Catholic activists, four years in jail for "anti-government activities"
    Tran Nhat Minh and Thai Van Dung are released from prison after serving the full terms of the sentence. In prison they were pressured to sign a "confession". Equality, justice and love are the basis of "progress" and "civilization" of a society.

    05/01/2013 VIETNAM
    Vietnam, arrested Catholic activist on hunger strike
    Le Quoc Quan, well known lawyer and blogger has refused food for four days. His state of health unknown. Family and lawyers not allowed to see him. He is accused of tax evasion, the lastest government "ploy” to silence the voices of dissent in the country.

    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.

    27/05/2015 VIETNAM
    Human rights blogger is freed and promises renewed battle
    Hanoi authorities have released the 51 year old Truong Duy Nhat, who was sentenced in March 2014 to two years in prison. He was charged under Article 258 of the penal code, applied to target dissidents. He promises to continue his fight for rights and civil liberties in Vietnam.



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