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ICC Note:
As, 14 Christian activists continue to be wrongfully detained by Vietnamese police on charges of “subversion,” the world once again turns its attention to the “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” violations of religious freedom, as characterized by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2013 Annual Report, that continue to be committed by the Vietnamese government. In a bold stroke of bipartisan support, several members of the house of representatives have authored and cosponsored new legislation, H.R.1897 Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2013 and H.Res.218 Calling on the Secretary of State to List the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as a “Country of Particular Concern” with Respect to Religious Freedom. Every day Christians continue to be terrorized by the Vietnamese government and its religious police, suffering beatings, churches being burnt to the ground, and wrongful imprisonment and torture.
05/23/2013 Vietnam (AsiaNews) – Catholics, human rights activists, members of civil society and international organizations continue their mobilization for the release of 14 Christian activists—13 Catholic and a Protestant—sentenced to various prison terms, for a maximum of 13 years in prison. After numerous delays the next hearing of eight defendants is scheduled for May 23. They will appear before the judges of the Supreme Court of Vinh, Nghe An province, northern Vietnam. In this month of May, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Asian nation’s Festival of Flowers, the Catholic community is uniting around the young people, imprisoned on charges of “subversion” against the state, and are appealing to the government in Hanoi to free these people completely innocent of these charges.
Activists and international organizations have spared no criticism of the government for the illegal arrest and subsequent sentencing. Groups of citizens recall that “local authorities exploit the use of paramilitary forces to arrest and prosecute the action [policy] of dissidents and patriots.” They point the finger at the unfairness of the conviction, in the face of non-existent evidence and unfounded accusations.
European countries, Asian and international pro-human rights committees have taken up the defense of the 14 Christian activists, to demand their release and an end to unfair trials perpetrated on the basis of false accusations. So far over 30 thousand signatures have been collected, demanding the communist authorities intercede for their release.
The story of young Christians in prison—and pending appeal—is tied to the arbitrary imprisonment of activists and nationalists, guilty only of having peacefully protested against Beijing’s “imperialist” aggression in the South China Sea. They include the 21-year old Catholic student Nguyen Phuong Uyen and Dinh Nguyen Kha as well as 36 other bloggers accused of online crimes and “peaceful dissidents” in jail for crimes of opinion.

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