In a massive candlelight vigil protest at Orange County, California, Buddhist monks, Catholic priests, and leaders of other faiths led thousands of faithful to pray for Hanoi Catholics asking the Vietnam government to stop persecuting them and respect human rights.

A statue of the Pieta in the central stage
Religious leaders
Great Buddhist Venerable Thich Nguyen Tri, Chairman of Bat Nha Buddhist Temple in Santa Anna, California; other 40 leaders of Buddhism, CaoDaism, Catholics, HoaHao Buddhism, Protestants, and other faiths; and ten thousand Vietnamese people in Orange County, California gathered on Friday night to pray for Hanoi Catholics who have been victims of injustice and persecutions by the Vietnam government.

Senator Lou Correa, Assemblymen Van Tran, Jose Solario and other members of California State Senate, California State Assembly; and other politicians from Westminster, Garden Grove and Santa Ana joined in the candlelight vigil.

Fr. John Tran Cong Nghi of VietCatholic News Agency presented updated situations in Hanoi nunciature, and Thai Ha. “Asking for illegally seized properties is asking for justice, and for the fairness,” he emphasized.

“In Vietnam numerous of the farmers and the poor have pleaded for years for the requisition of their properties but all in vain,” he continued. “The authorities chose to persecute rather than to take care of them! The right to own private property has not been taken into consideration. In addition, the national corruption and bribery calamities have worsened the situation. The Church in Vietnam has been standing on the side of people who suffered injustice when airing people’s frustrations and sufferings.”

“And we continue to do that even at the price of grave persecutions,” he stated referring to the recent statement of the Vietnam Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Addressing protestors, Senator Lou Correa said: “I am here with you tonight to ask the Vietnam communist government to respect human rights, justice; and stop immediately all depressions.”

Assemblyman Van Tran told protestors that he has started a diplomatic campaign including meetings with Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to United States of America, and officials in U.S. Department of State in order to put diplomatic pressure on the Vietnam government.

Protestors in California could connect to Thai Ha parish through telephone line to hear Fr. Peter Nguyen Van Khai talking to them from Hanoi. The Redemptorist priest seemed to be very emotional to learn that ten thousand people praying for him and Hanoi Catholics.

A mob of a hundred thugs attacked Hanoi Redemptorist Monastery again on Saturday, but this time in broad day light. They threatened people who came to pray at Thai Ha church on Saturday afternoon. They even went inside the church shouting obscenities at those who were praying there.

Standing in front of a large statue of the Pieta, set up in the central stage, to pray for Catholics in Vietnam, Thu Nguyen, a young protestor said: “I am happy when reading the Friday statement of bishops.” “They aired people’s aspirations,” she continued. “Everyone has the right to own property and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his/her property. The Vietnam government has deceived domestic and international public opinion. Vietnam must respect its own laws and all the international agreements it has signed. It must stop use them to hide its true color,” she warned.