Vinh Catholics who fought for religious freedom found guilty
The bishop and the Diocese of Vinh have been demanding release of the two Catholics belonging to My Yen parish, pleading that they were innocent.
A Court in Vinh last week sentenced Ngo Van Khoi and Nguyen Van Hai to 7 and 6 months’ imprisonment, respectively. The two were found guilty of ‘disturbing public order’, a specious charge frequently used by the authoritarian communist government to supress dissent.
The bishop and the Diocese of Vinh have been demanding release of the two Catholics belonging to My Yen parish, pleading that they were innocent. The in-camera trial lasted three hours and not even the family of the two were informed about it.
Families of Ngo Van Khoi, 53, and Nguyen Van Hai, 43, and the Vietnamese Catholic community expressed anger and disappointment at the sentence imposed on two Catholics who have been fighting for human rights and religious freedom.
Speaking to Radio Free Asia, Khoi’s children said that their father and his friend Hai were innocent. The families expressed sorrow at not being allowed access to the court during the trial.
The two were arrested last June and the government had announced their release on several occasions but never did. The Catholic community under the leadership of Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop of Vinh held several protests that attracted international attention.
Following this, the official Vietnamese media launched a heavy smear campaign against the bishop and provincial authorities sought to isolate the prelate from the Conference of Bishops and tried to obtain his expulsion. Tens of thousands attended Masses and prayer vigils for the freedom of the two Catholics.