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ICC Note: In January, 14 Catholic “dissidents” were sentenced to prison for up to 13 years on charges of subversion. The Christians were accused of holding membership with a pro-democracy group and fomenting “terrorism” by expressing their political views. Many Christians in Vietnam who are inspired by their faith to speak up on behalf of human rights face repression and arrest by a Communist government intent on maintaining tight political control. 
03/02/2013 Vietnam (AsiaNews) – Family and friends of the Catholics sentenced to prison for subversion in January have launched a public awareness campaign, which includes a petition signed by Christian and Buddhist religious leaders. The goal, say organizers, is to spread awareness of the case among the civilian population and win, first of all, the interest and the commitment of the Vietnamese people. The initiative was publicized by the younger brother of one of the people in prison; approached by the online radio Radio Free Asia (RFA), he said that the indictment is unjust, based on trumped-up charges which open the prison doors to “innocent” people.

Today there are two groups involved in the campaign: the first works in the north of Vietnam, while the second in the south of the country. In promoting the petition, organizers clearly state that the do not belong to any “political organizations or movements,” but to aim to express the “opinions and sentiments” of their family members. By mid-February over 10 thousand signatures had been collected, among two Catholic bishops and a religious leader from the Buddhist Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (Cubv), not recognized by the government and often subject to persecution and abuse. The Venerable Thich Khong Tanh wanted to join the campaign to “defend justice and democracy in the country.

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