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» 10/25/2013
VIETNAM
Vinh, 7 months jail for two Catholics who fought for religious freedom
Nghe An provincial judges sentence Ngo Van Khoi and Nguyen Van Hai. The bishop and entire diocese fought for their release, drawing authorities’ ire. The family had not been notified of the hearing, which lasted only three hours. A priest speaking anonymously confirms: "They are innocent".

Vinh (AsiaNews) - Disappointment, anger, dismay: this is the reaction of family, priests and parishioners in My yen following the sentence imposed on two Vietnamese Catholics in prison for months, for having fought in favor of human rights and religious freedom. The entire Vietnamese Catholic community had fought for their release and their story, thanks to the commitment and testimony of the Bishop of Vinh Msgr. Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, had garnered international interest. However, a court in the coastal region in north-central Vietnam issued the verdict on charges of "disturbing" public order. A specious charge frequently used by judges and by the communist authorities to silence dissent and free voices in the country.

On 23 October, the judges of the Court of Vinh , capital of the province of Nghe An, sentenced 53 year old Ngo Van Khoi to seven months in prison and Nguyen Van Hai , 43, to six months in jail (pictured a time of trial ) . The hearing lasted about three hours in a closed-door trial that not even the family were informed of.

The two were arrested last June, in the weeks after the authorities had announced their release on several occasions but never carried out their promise. Their failure to release the two sparked animated protests violently repressed by Vietnamese police, as happened on September 4 with numerous injuries and several arrests. In response to the faithful - steadfast in supporting priests and diocesan leaders in the fight for the freedom of the parishioners - celebrated Masses and prayer vigils, attended by tens of thousands of people .

Vietnamese media also launched a heavy smear campaign against the bishop, while the Nghe An provincial authorities sought to isolate the prelate from the Conference of Bishops and obtain his expulsion . A position that united the Vietnamese bishops even more and gave rise to demonstrations of solidarity, respect and closeness from the prelates nationwide, including the Bishop of Kontum .

Speaking to Radio Free Asia (RFA ) the children of Khoi say they are shocked by the verdict, pointing out that both their father as his friend Hai "are innocent" , they have appealed to all competent authorities, at all levels, for their release. The family adds that it became aware of the trial from some villagers, not of the Catholic faith, who expressed " sadness " because they were not allowed access to the court for the trial.

According to reports, a village official revealed to some people - but not Catholics - that the judges were preparing to prosecute the two parishioners, but have refrained from informing the men's relatives . A local priest speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the two "are innocent " and that "they should be released".

 


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See also
10/08/2013 VIETNAM
Vinh: amid threats and attacks, 50 thousand Catholics pray for release of the two parishioners
by J.B. An Dang
09/18/2013 VIETNAM
Bishop of Vinh concerned by regime attacks, appeals for international support
10/19/2013 VIETNAM
Buddhists and Christians denounce Hanoi for using law to control religions
09/06/2012 VIETNAM
Diocese of Vinh to appeal judges: acquit three young innocent Catholics
07/03/2012 VIETNAM
Vinh: Catholics targeted by thugs and authorities. Dozens of faithful injured during
by Nguyen Hun

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