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    » 12/30/2010, 00.00


    Da Nang bishop says no to violence and lies about Con Dau Catholics

    Emily Nguyen

    According to a party newspaper, the bishop backs the crackdown against Catholics. Concerns are mounting that another wave of repression against the population is going to take place after local residents lost their homes and the church cemetery to a government land grab.

    Da Nang (AsiaNews) – The Vietnamese government is cracking down again against Con Dau Catholics after fraudulently taking away their cemetery to build a tourist resort. Media have claimed that the local bishop agrees with the government but Mgr Chau slammed the false information, telling AsiaNews that as a pastor I “shall never agree to something that runs against the legitimate interests of my people.”

    Last Saturday, the newspaper representing the provincial committee of the Communist Party in Da Nang wrote that a day earlier, Christmas Eve, the committee’s secretary Nguyen Ba Thanh met with Mgr Chau Ngoc Tri, bishop of Da Nang.

    According to the newspaper, Tranh “showed the bishop the city’s socio-economic development plans and informed him of its urban planning orientation, especially in relation to Con Dau parish.” The paper claimed that “Mgr Chau Ngoc Tri thanked city authorities for the visit and expressed his full support for the city’s policy as well as his regrets for what happened in Con Dau.”

    Speaking to AsiaNews, the prelate criticised the lies contained in the article. “As a pastor, I have the right to protect my flock. I have never been and shall never agree to something that runs against the legitimate interests of my people.”

    Since the start of the year, Con Dau Catholics have resisted a government order to seize all the houses in the area as well as the local cemetery in order to build a luxury tourist resort. The order itself falls far short of providing adequate compensation for the seized property.

    In May, 500 police beat parishioners who tried to bury a woman in the cemetery, arresting some of those present. A few days before their trial, their lawyers were banned from representing them in court. They were sentenced to 12 months in prison (see Emily Nguyen, “Harsh sentences for six Con Dau parishioners,” in AsiaNews, 28 October 2010).

    According to some Catholics, Tranh’s visit and the newspaper article are a prelude to fresh violence.

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    See also

    12/03/2012 VIETNAM
    Police threatens violence against Cồn Dầu Catholics
    Since 2010, Đà Nẵng authorities want to knock down the Cồn Dầu parish church and cemetery to build a tourist resort. Police and officials raid the homes of families who have not yet left, threaten the vicar who must leave the parish within three months.

    12/07/2011 VIETNAM
    Vietnamese police cracks down on pro-national sovereignty protests
    The authorities’ attack was particularly harsh last Sunday on people peacefully demonstrating against China’s strong-arm tactics and violent behaviour. Catholics are especially concerned by the authorities’ possible acquiescence towards China’s model of ‘patriotic Church’.

    11/09/2008 VIETNAM
    Bishops in Thai Ha to express solidarity; crackdown on those who talk to media
    A steady stream of people continue to join the demonstrators asking for the restitution of parish land. Some are coming by bicycle, because police are blocking the buses used to transport the faithful. Efforts to keep information from getting to the news agencies, including AsiaNews.

    08/06/2009 VIETNAM
    Catholic convent demolished in Vietnam
    The two-storey building was home to the Order of the Brothers of The Holy Family of Banam. Its altar and votive statues were thrown into a rubbish dump. Church properties are being seized by the authorities to be turned into hotels or tourist resorts. Catholic leaders lament the violation of religious freedom in the country.

    13/10/2008 VIETNAM
    Discrimination and hostility making Vietnamese Catholics more united
    Surveillance of the religious, cultural, and social activities of the faithful continues: members of the communist youth movement are recording classes for the police. The Politburo praises the government media for their campaign of defamation, but the national news agency praises the humanitarian activities of the faithful. Meanwhile, the number of young people who want to learn more about the Church's social doctrine is rising.

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