Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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by Emily Nguyen 

10/25/10 Vietnam (AsiaNews) – Thousands of Catholics gathered yesterday at the Redemptorist monastery in Thai Ha, in Hanoi to pray and express their support for six parishioners of Dau who will be put in trial in two days time. The trial is seen as a new attempt by the judicial system to persecute those who refuse to see their rights to truth and justice trampled on.

This can be evidently seen in the 16 page report of the Bureau of Investigation of Cam Le, Da Nang which according to the Vietnam Criminal Code, will serve as the basis for the indictments against six parishioners accused of “inciting riots, falsely accusing the government, disrespecting the nation, breaking and ridiculing the law, and instigating others to violate it”.

It all started earlier this year, with the local authorities’ decision to demolish all the houses in the parish of Con Dau, created 135 years ago to build a tourist center, without offering a fair compensation or support for re-housing. The area includes the parish cemetery and covers an area of 10 hectares, about a mile from the church. For 135 years it has been the only burial place for the faithful and, in the past, it was among the historical sites protected by the government. Until March 10, when security agents have placed a sign at the entrance of the cemetery with the inscription “No burials in this area”. When a parishioner went to protest, the head of the police sprayed tear gas in his face, causing him to pass out.

On May 4, during the funeral procession for Mary Tan, 82, police intervened to prevent the burial in the cemetery. For almost an hour there were clashes (pictured) between 500 Catholics and agents, with many wounded and 59 people arrested. The coffin was taken to the family of the woman and was later cremated, against the wishes she had expressed, to be buried next to her husband and his family members, in the parish cemetery.

On May 6, in a pastoral letter, Bishop of Da Nang, Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri, spoke of a ”manhunt” of the faithful by the police.

In July, Nam Nguyen, a Catholic parish Con Dau, he died a few hours after being released by police. In the months leading up to his arrest and death he had been detained, threatened and beaten by officers.

Nevertheless, state media have praised the officers for their forbearance and self-control, describing them as victims of an organized gang of parishioners, driven to violence by the six believers who are being tried.

And finally, October 22, just days before the trial, two lawyers, Duong Ha and Cu Huy Ha Vu who on several occasions had expressed support for the cause of the six Catholic and had volunteered for their defense, were denied permission to defend them.

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