Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Communist Party officials attacked the members of a small parish in Quy Chau District in order to force them to give up land owned by the local Church, which they illegally promised to some local businessmen. This is far from an isolated incident; in fact, this kind of behaviour is growing. Like in China, Vietnam's Communist regime tends to seize by force land where churches and other places of worship are located with the aim of selling it to people who bribe officials. Since 2009, more than 2,000,000 people have been harmed this way.
Fr Nguyen Van Huong, secretary of the bishop of Vinh, wrote a letter to Nghe An Provincial People's Committee to protest against such abuse. "Your Committee," he wrote, "must assume full responsibility for this attack, which took place on 11 June. Officials violated the religious freedom of the population. By beating and hurting local parishioners, they have harmed their health and life."
"The so-called local authorities used violence against the parishes of Dong Chiem and Thai Ha. This time, they used more violence, really hurting people," a parishioner said. "Matters are getting more complicated and serious by the day. The fault lies with the government's religious policy."
"In 1996, the government introduced an urban planning initiative for the area," another parishioner told AsiaNews, but "is has become a licence to steal land from the people."
Communist officials are only interested "in money and more money. This is the main reason why our society is politically unstable. Communist officials constantly violate the basic rights of the people. For this reason, they lost our trust."
"Some officials have contacted some rich businessmen who want to buy at a low price some 169 hectares of land owned by local residents in order to resell at a high price," a government investigator said. "They are a bunch of crooks protected by the central government."
Mgr Michael Hoang Duc Oanh, bishop of Kontum, wrote to provincial authorities. "In 1978, the government borrowed the diocesan Compassion Centre in Kontum Province. Now the Education Department plans to tear it down to put up a prefabricated school building."
If that was not enough, the government has already demolished "the Sisters of Charity Convent," he lamented.
"Built in 1936, the convent was located near the Centre. Nguyễn Tất Thành Studious School now stands in its place. The nuns were forced to move into the sick-leave house of local priests. The same fate fell on the Sisters of Divine Providence, who have been forced to live and perform their pastoral duties in the offices of Kontum Diocese."
After pointing out these violations, the prelate wrote, "We are not asking any favour. We expect to be treated fairly, as Vietnamese citizens. We have a right to live a dignified life in a society that is ruled by fair laws."