CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Many beaten and injured as police suppress protests in Vietnam

HANOI (UCAN): In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, around 200 protesters were detained, beaten and interrogated by police on June 17, in a crackdown aimed at suppressing opposition to a proposed special economic development plan and the approval of a controversial cyber security law.
 
Eyewitnesses said the police action was aimed at stopping any demonstration talking place. 
 
As in other parts of the country, protesters were protesting a newly passed cyber security law and a controversial draft law on the establishment of three new special economic zones that they fear will be controlled by Chinese investors. 
 
Nguyen Ngoc Lua, a rights advocate, said she was randomly targeted, beaten and dragged into a bus by four security officers after she attended Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral.
 
Nguyen said she and more than 150 other people were taken to a detention area. Many of those detained were from provinces neighbouring the Ho Chi Minh City and most were Catholics, she said. Police accused them of marching to oppose the government.
 
A large number were injured.
 
Nguyen said police shouted at her and beat up many protesters, including women, before questioning them. Police beat one man unconsciousness while a young woman was beaten badly she lost a tooth, she said. 
 
Police also forced protesters to delete photos and videos from their mobile phones.
 
A protester from Lam Dong province, Yen Thi, said she and her husband were detained for 20 hours without food and drink at a police station where police officers accused them of gathering illegally and violating laws.
 
“We are patriots. We will demonstrate against the economic development draft law and abrogation of the cyber security law until our last breath,” Yen said.
 
In other parts of the country, police reportedly cut off power and Internet connections to prevent people from spreading information, photos and videos on protests.
 
Tens of thousands of Catholics, including priests from many parishes in Ha Tinh province, attended special Masses on June 17 to pray for justice and peace in the nation and for government leaders to protect the country. 
 
After the Mass, they took to the streets to peacefully protest against the special economic development plans and the cyber security law.

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