CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 19 August 2017

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Catholic blogger jailed in Vietnam

HANOI (UCAN): Mary Magdelene Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, a Catholic blogger known as Mother Mushroom, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the People’s Court of Khanh Hoa province in Nha Trang City on June 29.
 
The roads leading up to the court were blocked while police lined the streets.
 
Nguyen, a co-founder of a network of bloggers, was found guilty of “conducting propaganda against the Communist government” under Article 88 of the Criminal Law. She was arrested on 10 October 2016.
 
Many lawyers spoke out in support of 38-year-old Nguyen through Facebook saying the sentence is too heavy and inhumane.
 
“I am really surprised by the 10-year sentence that shows the government’s inhumanity to a single young mother,” one lawyer, Le Cong Dinh, said, adding, “I did not realise what a state of panic the ruling party is in.”
 
Only three of the five lawyers Nguyen had requested were present at the trial. Her lawyers had demanded the trial be postponed, but the judges rejected the appeal. One lawyer was refused the opportunity to meet with her before the trial.
 
UCAN was told the judges did not listen to the lawyers’ arguments and handed down an pre-arranged sentence. 
 
According to the indictment, the defendant made Facebook postings between 2012 and 2016 “criticising and deforming the Communist Party’s policies and history, and dividing national solidarity.”
 
She posted a document titled, Stop police killing civilians, listing about 31 cases of people who had died while in police detention.
 
Nguyen was also accused of conducting campaigns for freedom, democracy and human rights in 2015, denying the Party’s leadership and giving interviews to foreign news agencies where she spoke badly about the government. 
 
But during the hearing, lawyers reportedly proved that she had not violated any laws “because she expressed her own opinions on Facebook that conform to the rules.”
 
Nguyen’s mother, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, was not permitted to enter the courtroom and had to watch through a screen from a room nearby. She said that she and Nguyen’s two young children had only met with her for five minutes before the trial since her arrest.
 
“Every person has only one life. But if I had to relive my life, I would still have done the same thing. I believe my mother and children will never feel sorry for me but be proud of me,” Nguyen said in court.
 
“I want to build a good society. People can only be happy and free when they enjoy freedom of speech and expression. I hope people will continue the struggle and overcome their fears to build a better country,” she said. 

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