August 9, 2011
Hanoi – Eight Catholics from central Vietnam were arrested after protesting for land rights and circulating a petition to free prominent legal rights activist Cu Huy Ha Vu, their lawyer and families said Tuesday.
Those arrested had ’taken part in activities such as asking authorities to return land in Thai Ha province, or against a government-run Bauxite mining project,’ lawyer Le Quoc Quan said.
They were arrested between July 30 and August 8 in Vinh province, banned political group Viet Tan said.
Ho Duc Luc, younger brother of Ho Duc Hoa who was arrested along with two other Catholics at Saigon airport as he returned from holiday, said police searched their house ’but they did not say anything about the arrest of my brother.’
Four others were arrested while they were in their homes in Vinh City and blogger Paulus Le Son was detained as he was walking down a street in Hanoi, according to his girlfriend.
The arrests represent a new wave of persecution by the newly appointed government, Viet Tan said.
Last week, thousands of Catholics in Vinh City took to the streets protesting against a decision by local authorities to seize land in Cau Ram parish to build a park dedicated to soldiers who died during the war with the United States.
In the last few weeks, authorities have upheld a seven-year sentence for human rights lawyer Cu Huy Ha Vu on charges of propagandizing against the state, returned to prison activist Father Nguyen Van Ly, and will try maths professor Pham Minh Hoang on Wednesday for being a member of Viet Tan.