Thousands of Catholics praying for Teresa Tran Thi Xuan at Cua Sot Church on Oct. 18. (Photo by Duc Nguyen)
Catholics in a central Vietnamese province have expressed support for a female activist who was arrested for "attempting to overthrow the government."
Teresa Tran Thi Xuan, a member of Cua Soc Parish, was arrested while traveling to work in her home province of Ha Tinh on Oct. 17.
The Ha Tinh Provincial Public Security Department accused Xuan of "acting to overthrow the people's government under Article 79 of the Penal Code."
The department said Xuan is a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, a domestic civil society which the government sees as reactionary group acting to overthrow the communist state.
The 41-year-old was accused of causing public disorder, infringing upon national security, resisting the Communist Party, calling for protests and conducting voluntary activities among young people.
On Oct. 18, thousands of Catholics attended a candle-lit prayer to pray for Xuan's justice at Cua Sot Church. They also raised banners saying "Tran Thi Xuan innocent! Free her!"
Others voiced their concerns to ucanews.com.
"We strongly oppose the government arresting Xuan, who actively gives material and spiritual support to poor people and natural disaster victims," a local Catholic woman said.
She said Xuan has done nothing wrong except for helping the poor. "Can an honest and direct woman attempt to overthrow the ruling system?" she asked.
Some local Catholics said Xuan actively did charitable work in the parish. She and young people in the parish collected used items to sell so to support people in need. They also spoke out against Taiwanese firm Formosa which was responsible for a massive toxic waste spill in the province.
"We demand the government release her," another Catholic said.
Vietnam's communist government tolerates little criticism and has arrested 20 activists and dissidents this year.
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