Reports from Archdiocese of Hanoi express deep concerns on a new wave of crackdowns, assaults and arrests against Catholics who were peacefully seeking to observe the “public trial” of rights advocate Cu Huy Ha Vu.

“At least 29 Catholics were arrested at 8 AM on Monday morning when they were on their way to the court-house to observe the proceedings,” Catholic Youth Association of Vinh reported. Among them was Le Quoc Quan, a celebrated Catholic lawyer who has just filled out his application to run for Congress as a Catholic. He is also an enthusiastic, outspoken supporter of the sentenced rights advocate Cu Huy Ha Vu. Others were Paulus Le Son, a blogger and a regular writer on the Redemptorists’ website; John Nguyen Van Tam, Catholic Student Group leader, and other young, patriotic students who came to show their respect for the non-Catholic defendant.

It had been reported by numerous eyewitnesses, shortly before being arrested those Catholic individuals were closely stalked, their cell phone use monitored and they subsequently manhandled roughly, even bystanders who came to their rescue had been subjected to beating repeatedly until they had to let go of the victims in order to avoid being severely injured.

With Le Quoc Quan in custody at the Hoan Kiem station, police raided his house, turned everything upside down, taking away his computers and documents along with a safe box.

Another Catholic prominent reporter JB Nguyen Huu Vinh, who had been beaten half dead at Dong Chiem last year, was summoned right on the day for interrogation after his article on police brutality against innocent people had been published on a Catholic Website. It’s a move that many have believed to prevent him from participating and reporting the trial.

The arbitrary arrests of police against people attending the court, and the lack of due process in the conduct of the trial to which all defendant lawyers walked out of the court to protest serious violations of the law during the proceedings prompted a statement from US. State Department.

Spokesman Mark Toner stated that "We're also troubled by the lack -- apparent lack of -- due process in the conduct of the trial and the continued detention of several individuals who are peacefully seeking to observe the proceedings”.

During his trial, the rights advocate who had twice attempted to sue Vietnam Prime Minister told the court he was innocent of the charges, saying: "This criminal case was invented against me. This case is completely illegal."

But the chief judge of Hanoi People's Court said his actions had been "harmful to society", cutting off Vu's self defence argument.

"His writings and interviews blackened directly or indirectly the Communist Party of Vietnam," said Judge Nguyen Huu Chinh.

Vu's lawyers walked out of court after the judge refused to make public 10 interviews he was accused of conducting with foreign media - key parts of the case against him.

After the trial, his lawyers said there had been "serious violations of the law" during the proceedings. His wife, Mrs. Duong Ha, also a lawyer but was denied permission to defend her husband was the only defendant's family member allowed in the courtroom. She broke down in tears learning that so many Catholic parishioners and supporters around the country had suffered physical attacks by police in an effort to show their support to her husband. She wished to recover soon so she can come expressing her gratefulness to the priests and those Catholics who were there for her husband, and her concern for those who are still in police's custody.

Many have believed that the heavy sentence on Monday against lawyer Vu sent a clear signal that the government would not tolerate criticism of the current system, at a time when Vietnam’s economic model is facing severe headwinds. It also serves as an indication of the growing submissiveness to the Chinese of Vietnamese government.

In 2009 Vu submitted a legal action against a Vietnamese prime minister in a clear attempt to cancel a controversial bauxite mining plan by Chinese companies, which had sparked unusual opposition from a cross-section of society.

Just before his arrest in last November during a crackdown against activists and bloggers as political tensions rose before the Communist Party's January leadership Congress, he wrote many letters to members of Congress warning them of Chinese influences in the nation's decision making process.