Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Vietnam jails Catholic lawyer and blogger
Le Quoc Quan given 30 month sentence
A Buddhist nun holds a banner in support of Le Quoc Quan, who was jailed today (Cat Barton / AFP)
- AFP, Hanoi
- October 2, 2013
One of Vietnam's best known dissidents was jailed for two and a half years on Wednesday as hundreds of supporters protested in the capital against the communist state's crackdown on dissent.
Scores of police formed a ring around the Hanoi People's Court, where lawyer and blogger Le Quoc Quan was convicted of tax evasion. The charges have been denounced by international rights campaigners as politically motivated.
The 42-year-old was also given a $59,000 fine, court president Le Thi Hop announced after a half-day trial in Hanoi.
"I am the victim of political acts," Le Quoc Quan told the court, denying the charges.
"I will continue my fight against corruption, attacking bureaucracy and stagnancy that are undermining our country," he added.
When the verdict was announced, Le Quoc Quan shouted "I object" before the television feed into the observation room where reporters were sitting was cut off.
Le Quoc Quan, who blogged on a range of sensitive topics including civil rights, political pluralism and religious freedom, has been in detention since last December.
His lawyer, Ha Huy Son said there were "no grounds to prosecute" the popular blogger over tax evasion.
Rights groups estimate hundreds of activists are locked up in Vietnam for speaking out against authoritarian communist rule, including at least 46 jailed this year.
"The Vietnamese government appears to be so nervous about its position in society that it is reflexively finding ways to silence and imprison dissident after dissident," said Brad Adams, Asia director at New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Shouting "Free Le Quoc Quan" and waving signs calling for the Catholic lawyer's release, several hundred people blocked a key intersection in the capital as his trial got under way, causing rush hour traffic chaos.
The scale of the protest was unusual in Vietnam, where authorities keep a tight lid on dissent.
Ahead of the hearing, activists said that they were being kept under virtual house arrest in a bid to prevent them from staging protests near the court.
Le Quoc Quyet, the lawyer's younger brother, said before the verdict that he and his sister were prevented from marching to the court.
"We request to watch the trial but police stop us," he said.
There was "some violence, the police hit, they kick some people," he added.
Hundreds of confused commuters were caught up in the rally, with police forcing buses to turn back as they closed main roads to keep protesters from getting close to the courtroom.
Vietnam -- where the Communist Party forbids all political debate -- is regularly denounced by rights groups and Western governments for its intolerance of political dissent and systematic violations of freedom of religion.
US officials said in June that Vietnam was holding more than 120 political prisoners.
Reporters Without Borders said in July that Vietnam was second only to China in the number of bloggers it detained.
Another prominent Vietnamese blogger, best known by his pen name Dieu Cay, was charged with tax evasion in 2008.
Dieu Cay, whose real name is Nguyen Van Hai, was given 30 months in jail.
He was not released after completing the sentence and was later charged with conducting anti-state propaganda and sentenced to 12 years. AFP