Catholic activist’s trial to begin, imprisoned clergyman’s family isolated

A long-time Catholic human rights and pro-democracy advocate, Le Quoc Quan has also protested against Beijing's "imperialism" in the South China Sea.

Vietnam
Sep 27 2013, 5:43 PM
Catholic activist’s trial to begin, imprisoned clergyman’s family isolated

The first hearing in the trial of lawyer and Catholic human rights activist, Le Quoc Quan, will be held on Wednesday at the Hanoi People's Court. He was arrested on false charges of tax fraud last December.

The court had postponed the trial originally scheduled to start on July 9 because the judge suddenly fell ill.

The 42-year-old had observed a long period of fasting and prayer to prepare for the trial. His was one of the foremost cases involving Catholic activists. A long-time human rights and pro-democracy advocate, he has also protested against Beijing's "imperialism" in the South China Sea.

Catholic activists and believers in his home town of Vinh have organised a spiritual retreat and group prayers to win his release. The Justice and Peace Commission in Vinh has intervened for his release, accusing authorities of political repression against an activist.

Meanwhile, Radio Free Asia reported that Vietnamese authorities blocked the entrance to Reverend Nguyen Cong Chinh's home, preventing his wife and five children from leaving the building.

The clergyman, who headed a Mennonite church banned for "undermining unity," has been in prison since April 2011; he was sentenced to 11 years in March 2012. According his wife, police want to keep her at home to prevent any contact between her jailed husband and his family.

"This is repression," she said. "I did not do anything wrong, yet they trapped me inside and terrorise my children."

In Vietnam, the government has been involved in a harsh, long term campaign against religious leaders, Catholic activists and entire communities as was the case in recent weeks in the Diocese of Vinh, where media and government launched a smear campaign and engaged targeted attacks against the local bishop and faithful.

The crackdown also affects single individuals, who demand the right to religious freedom and respect for citizens' civil rights.

Source: AsiaNews