Last night, more than 5,000 Catholics in Saigon held a candlelight vigil at Saigon Redemptorist Monastery to protest over the up-coming trial in Hanoi against eight Catholic parishioners of Thai Ha who were charged with 'damaging state property and disorderly conduct in public.' They deny all charges.

160 priests from various religious orders in Saigon and nearby provinces concelebrated Mass to pray for the Church in Vietnam and in particular for the eight prisoners.

Fr. Michael Nguyen Huu Phu, Superior of Saigon Redemptorist Monastery, told the congregation that "at the former nunciature in Hanoi and at Thai Ha parish, the authorities buried Jesus Christ, justice and truth. But from there, Jesus Christ will rise, and justice and truth will be resurrected."

The congregation saw on a big screen the pictures of the eight parishioners to be tried in Hanoi, and was briefed on the difficulties that they are facing, especially the denial of access to lawyers.

On Saturday, thousands of Catholic university students in Hanoi gathered in another candlelight vigil under the watchful eye of hundreds of armed police. During the vigil, students performed a play depicting the suffering of the Martyrs of Vietnam.

Fr Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh, the provincial superior of the Redemptorists in Vietnam, has sent a letter to Redemptorists in Vietnam asking them to pray for the eight parishioners of Thai Ha.

"More than anyone, we know well that they are innocent, not only innocent according to their own conscience, but also according to the law. However, they are still charged and prosecuted."