19 April, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 09/25/2012 12:41
VIETNAM
Catholics to pray for three bloggers unfairly given harsh prison sentences
by Paul N. Hung
Sentences range between 4 and 12 years in jail, plus probation. Redemptorists celebrate Mass for the prisoners. US State Department complains the accused simply exercised their right to free speech. Human Rights Watch protests, calls on the authorities to listen to the people and to its critics.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - A court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced three Vietnamese bloggers, Nguyễn Văn Hải (Blogger Điếu Cày),  Maria Tạ Phong Tần and Phan Thanh hải (blogger anh Ba Sài Gòn), to 4 to 12 years in prison, plus probation, for "propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam".

On a cold and rainy morning, police arrested and took away relatives of the accused who tried to attend the trial. Some 400 officers from the police and the secret services patrolled the streets leading to the courthouse (pictured).

The three were arrested and convicted on baseless charges. In fact, if the law has been violated, it is by the authorities.

International organisations like Human Rights Watch slammed the court decision.

"We are deeply troubled by the convictions of three Vietnamese bloggers who appear to have done nothing more than exercise their right to freedom of expression," said State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

On Sunday, the Redemptorists heeded a request by the bloggers' relatives for a Mass to pray for them and 17 other Catholics unfairly jailed. Some 2,000 people attended the service, including non-Catholics.

"It was certain that the three faced heavy prison sentences," said Fr Joseph, "that they would 'lose' in the trial; however, their work was meaningful. They are brave patriots in a society of unjust behaviours. We prayed especially for new Catholic bloggers."

The convictions are based on Article 88 of the Criminal Code, an infamous legal tool used to arrest and incriminate people arbitrarily.

For this trouble, Nguyễn Văn Hải was given 12 years in prison, and five years of probation. Maria Tạ Phong Tần, who was baptised by the Redemptorists in 2009, received a nine-year sentenced, plus five years probation.  Phan Thanh Hải was given four years in prison and three on probation.

For some, this is a harsh and unfair sentence. It allows us to understand the direction the government is taking.

Human Rights Watch called on the government to release the prisoners immediately.  The government needs to understand the nature of social issues and phenomena and should listen to people's opinions, even their criticism. If the bloggers are gagged, or imprisoned, the country's current problems and difficulties cannot be solved.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
04/04/2011 VIETNAM
Tens of thousands of Catholics in Vietnam support sentenced dissident
by J.B. An Dang
12/16/2008 VIETNAM
Hanoi mayor wants to drive Redemptorists out of town
by J.B. An Dang
04/14/2011 VIETNAM
Catholics, arrested for supporting Cu Huy Ha Vu, released
by Emily Nguyen
10/27/2010 VIETNAM
Vietnamese bishops ask government to "explain" Con Dau situation
04/05/2011 VIETNAM
Hanoi Catholics arrested and beaten for wanting to follow Cu Huy Vu trial
by J.B. An Dang

Editor's choices
ITALY - ASIA
Easter, victory over death and impotence
by Bernardo Cervellera
SYRIA
I will miss you Fr Frans, you inspired us all, says Syrian Jesuit
by Tony Homsy*A young priest from the Society of Jesus remembers the life and work of Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in Homs after he refused to abandon residents beleaguered by hunger and war. "He gave and continues to give everything for the Church, Syria, and peace. His story and qualities made him an exceptional missionary and witness to the Gospel." Reprinted courtesy of 'The Jesuit Post'.
FRANCE - IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch on the uncertain future of eastern Christians, a bridge between the West and Islam
by Mar Louis Raphael I SakoThe wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have made things worse for their peoples, especially minorities. As Western policies have been a failure, fundamentalism has grown with the Arab Spring losing out to extremism. Muslim authorities have a role in protecting rights and religious freedom. The presence of Christians in the Middle East is crucial for Muslims.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.