01/07/2010, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Explosive used to demolish crucifix in a Hanoi Catholic cemetery

by J.B. An Dang
Police attacks parishioners trying to defend the sculpture. An unknown number of people are wounded. The Archdiocese slams the incident in Dong Chiem parish. Something similar occurred last November in Bau Sen.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The crucifix in the cemetery of Hanoi's Dong Chiem Parish Church was blown up with explosives yesterday. Parishioners who came to the site upon hearing the loud explosion were charged and beaten by police. Two youths were wounded and taken away; it is not known how many other were hurt.  

The press release by the Archdiocese of Hanoi about the incident reads almost like a war bulletin. "Police attacked the parish today, in the early morning, when both its pastor and the pastor’s assistant were at the annual retreat in the Archbishop Office. An estimated 500 heavily armed and well-entrenched police officers and a large number of trained dogs were deployed in the area to protect an army engineering unit that destroyed a large crucifix erected on a boulder inside the parish cemetery," the statement said.

The attack began at 3 am with the use of explosive. "On hearing explosions, parishioners rushed to the site to protect their crucifix but they were stopped by police who tried to drive them back,” Fr. Joseph Nguyen Van Huu, pastor of Dong Chiem parish, said.

Parishioners reported that they were shot at close range with tear gas canisters as they knelt kneeling praying and asking police officers to stop destroying their crucifix. Some were even beaten with batons.

The exact number of those injured during the clash with police has not been reported.

A similar attack occurred in the parish of Bau Sen in the diocese of Vinh. On 5 November of last year, anti-riot police and a bulldozer were used  to remove a statue of the Virgin Mary from a Catholic cemetery.

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