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  • » 02/04/2014, 00.00


    Vinh: crowd greets Chu Manh Son, a young Catholic released from prison

    The prisoner of conscience served in full a 30-month prison sentence for "propaganda against the state". He was a student and an active member of Christian organisations. Upon his release, the community greeted him with warmth and emotion. Now he will spend another year under house arrest.

    Vinh (AsiaNews/EDA) - The Catholic community of Vinh, northern Vietnam, is celebrating the release of Chu Manh Son, a prisoner of conscience who served in full his 30-month prison sentence for breaking Article 88 of the Penal Code.

    According to the Code, anyone who promotes "propaganda against the state" is punishable. In reality, it used (and abused) by the authorities to suppress dissent and imprison activists and political opponents.

    The young Catholic left his cell on Sunday afternoon and returned home where he was "warmly" welcomed by family, friends and members of the local Christian community.

    Local Catholic sources added that a "large crowd" had gathered for the event. Touched by the situation, it included many parishioners from Duc Lân, Diocese of Vinh in Nghe An province, and Catholic militants from all over the province as well as family members.

    Before his arrest, Chu Manh Son, 25, studied medicine at Nghe An University and was an active member of the John Paul II Pro-Life Movement. He was also engaged in the struggle for justice and truth, activities deemed "anti-government propaganda" by the authorities.

    He was part of a group of 17 Catholics in the Dioceses of Vinh and Thanh Hoa who were arrested by security officials - without a warrant - between the end of June 2011 and December of the same year.

    Son was arrested on August 3 and sentenced to 30 months in prison on 26 September 2012, which he served in Phu Son Prison, Thai Nguyen province (northern Vietnam).

    Now he will spend another year under house arrest, atched by the authorities and deprived of certain fundamental freedoms.

    What happened to him is part of a harsh government campaign that has been underway for quite some time against dissidents, bloggers, religious leaders (including Buddhists), Catholic activists as well as entire communities. Which is what happened last year in the Diocese of Vinh, when media and the authorities promoted a smear campaign and targeted attacks against bishop and faithful.

    As evinced in this case, repression strikes individuals who are guilty of demanding the right of religious freedom and respect for citizens' civil rights.

    Out of Vietnam's 87 million people, 48 per cent are Buddhists, more than 7 per cent are Catholics, 5.6 per cent follow syncretistic religions and 20 per cent are atheist.

    As a small, albeit significant minority, the Christian community is particularly active in education, health and social affairs.

    In recent years, religious freedom has steadily eroded in Vietnam. Under Decree 92, more controls and restrictions have been imposed on religious practice, increasingly subjected to the whims of the Communist Party and the one-party state.

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    See also

    08/01/2014 VIETNAM
    Vinh: Christmas celebration for the release of two Catholics, jailed for defending religious freedom
    Ngo Van Khoi and Nguyen Van Hai left jail on 22 December, welcomed by the Catholic community, which celebrated their liberation. A special thanks goes to Mgr Paul Nguyen Thai Hop who fought against the unjust sentence, and expressed his joy for their homecoming and the special occasion of celebration.

    05/08/2015 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.

    18/04/2013 VIETNAM
    Vietnamese Catholics pray to Our Lady for the release of Viet Tan activists
    On April 24, the appeal process begins for the 14 young people convicted with ranging sentences on "terrorism" charges. At least 29 thousand people have signed a petition for the "young patriots" acquittal. Signatories include bishops, priests and Buddhist monks. The group increasingly "icons" of the "non-violent" struggle against corruption.

    06/05/2005 VIETNAM
    US acknowledges Hanoi's steps in favour of religious freedom
    US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick meets Vietnamese officials after agreement on religious freedom is announced. Details still not released.

    17/02/2005 vietnam
    Catholics Pledge Thrifty Lunar New Year Celebrations To Help Tsunami Survivors

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