10/09/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Thai Ha property has also become a public park

by Thuy Dung
Police arrest and threaten priests and faithful, but some of those arrested have been released from jail. Now the authorities to warn that the sewer line will pass through the site of the chapel of St. Gerard. The media campaign against the bishop continues.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Another public park has been hastily inaugurated in Hanoi. After the park on the property of the former apostolic delegation, it was the turn of the parish of Thai Ha: both were created on land confiscated from the Church, asked to be returned, and in both cases, legal proceedings are still underway.

There were few people at the inauguration of the new park: almost exclusively groups of veterans and activists of the Communist Youth League (in the photo), identifiable by their blue shirts with the logo of the companies that sponsor them. They are the same ones who carry out violent raids against the faithful during prayer vigils, and most recently inside the parish itself and around the offices of the archbishop.

For Catholics, the new park is a cause for further concern. The local authorities have told the Redemptorists - the original owners of all of the property - that the sewer installation will pass right through the chapel of St. Gerard, which was ransacked and half destroyed in an attack by "veterans" and "young people" on September 21.

While the media of the regime recounts the applause of the people at the new inauguration, "the police," says Fr. Nguyen Van That, a Redemptorist of Thai Ha, "have threatened to summon all of us, priests, and religious of Thai Ha monastery. They have said each of us will be questioned individually." So far, eight parishioners have been arrested, and "more have been interrogated in recent days."

But yesterday, the state news agency VNA reported the release of "two detainees accused of causing public disorder and destroying property" in Thai Ha. They are Le Quang Kien and Nguyen Duc Hung. Apprehended on August 28, they are now under house arrest. Both of them, according to the news agency, admitted their guilt, "demonstrating their repentance." Also released and placed under house arrest are four people involved "in the incident of the Chien Thang Garment Factory." This is the company that the local authorities had allowed to use the parish property, provoking the reaction of the faithful. The permission - nonsensical according to the logic of public use - was revoked, but the property has not been returned to the parish.

But the regime is continuing its media campaign against the archbishop of Hanoi, Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet. An "open letter from furious citizens" charges him with the usual accusations of violating the law, provoking disorder, slandering the nation, and harming the country; others are attacking the entire Vietnamese Church, certain "Catholics" are calling for his resignation. Around the archbishop's residence, there have been "spontaneous" demonstrations by people shouting slogans in favor of communism, and surveillance cameras and monitoring equipment have been installed to intercept activities and conversations.

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