» 09/18/2013 VIETNAM Bishop of Vinh concerned by regime attacks, appeals for international support In an interview with AsiaNews , Msgr . Paul Nguyen Thai Hop speaks of "a dangerous and worrying situation" for the Christians of the diocese, who are under the scrutiny of the Vietnamese authorities. He calls for the respect of human rights and the release of jailed parishioners. He also calls for " solidarity and support " for an end to " lies and slander ."
Vinh (AsiaNews ) - "We are
very concerned about the situation of the diocese of Vinh . We can not say how
long the attacks, the lies, the slander will continue. It is a dangerous and
worrying situation for Christians", says Msgr . Paul
Nguyen Thai Hop, Bishop of Vinh diocese in the north of the country. In recent
weeks, the prelate and his diocese have been the target of a violent attack -
not just verbal - from the media and the Vietnamese authorities. Catholic
leaders fear further reprisals, the faithful, meanwhile, gather around the
prelate and participate in Mass and religious functions , emphasizing the value
of unity that characterizes and distinguishes the local Church. "We
want peace, freedom and dignity of human rights ," said Msgr. Paul
AsiaNews , but "unfortunately this is not dependent on our will."
16 September , bishops, priests and thousands of faithful Vietnamese (pictured)
waving Vatican flags and reciting prayers celebrated Mass "for peace and
justice " in response to the calumnies of State TV and newspapers that
promote a government smear campaign against the diocese of Vinh . The
function was held at the Shrine of St. Anthony , a center of pilgrimage in the
diocese of Vinh not far from the place where the violent police crackdown took place on September 4.
dispute is really over events linked to the parish in My yen, which is seeking
the release of two parishioners who have been in jail since last June without
even a formal accusation being made against them. The diocese of Vinh and its
bishop intervened in defense of the imprisoned parishioners, requesting the
release , and the entire community , legitimizing the protests . The support of
the diocesan Catholic leadership has sparked the reaction of the local and
central authorities , who have launched a smear campaign against Msgr. Paul
Nguyen Thai Hop and threatened to intervene harshly to quell the protest.
seems that the health of the two arrested parishioners is good " confirms
Mgr . Paul
to AsiaNews , but " in a totalitarian regime you can know nothing about
their release." Only
the government , added the prelate , " knows when they will be released ,
but we should not stop asking for their release ."
diocese of Vinh, the bishop continues , is "a poor diocese at an economic
level but rich in Christian tradition and culture. To live, we need peace and
freedom - he adds - in order to really fulfill the task of evangelization
is why "we need international support and solidarity, so that the
government put an end to repression, attacks, lies and slander ." We must demand from
the authorities, adds Msgr . Paul
, "the observance of human rights and all international conventions they
have signed . And also ask for the release of the two parishioners and
reparations for the victims of the violence in My yen ."
the recent past, the Vietnamese government has been involved for some time in a
campaign of repression against bloggers, activists and dissidents seeking religious
freedom, respect for civil rights, or the end of the one-party state. A petition has been launched for that purpose. In 2013 alone,
Hanoi has arrested more than 40 activists for crimes "against the
state", a legal notion human rights groups consider too general and vague.
The Catholic Church has also been subjected to constraints and restrictions;
its members, victims of persecution. In one case back in January, a Vietnamese
court sentenced 14 people, including some Catholics, to prison on charges of
attempting to overthrow the government, a ruling criticised forcefully by and
human rights activists and movements. ( DS )