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    » 07/16/2012, 00.00


    Government deploys tanks as over 10 thousand Vinh diocese faithful march for religious freedom.

    J. B. An Dang

    Banners and slogans demanding religious freedom and accusing the authorities of attacks against the faithful and sacred objects. A Catholic lawyer escapes arrest. A journalist wounded by a knife in attack. Solidarity and prayer for all the churches in Vietnam. Military deployed in front of the bishop's house.

    Vinh (AsiaNews) - More than 10 thousand Catholics marched yesterday in different areas of the diocese of Vinh to demand respect for religious freedom against threats and violence of the government. On the eve of the marches, to intimidate the Catholics, the authorities deployed tanks outside the bishop's residence, with patrols by gangs of thugs and soldiers.

    In a letter dated July 10, sent to cardinals and bishops from all over Vietnam, the diocese of Vinh asked for solidarity for the violence suffered by the faithful of Con Coung: "Recently - says the message - the Catholics of the diocese of Vinh, in Nghe An province (northwest), have suffered persecution because of their faith. The attack on 1 July was the tip of the iceberg of a series of violent attacks against Catholics in the region. On that day, the local government mobilized large numbers of police, army, militia thugs to disrupt and physically attack the priests and faithful. They have occupied the Con Coung chapel, desecrated the sacred space, destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary. "

    The diocese asked for the spiritual support and solidarity of other dioceses, and announced a huge protest yesterday, Sunday, July 15. They called for an end to the persecution and unwarranted attacks of propaganda and defamation against Catholics in the state media.

    Yesterday, prays were said for the faithful of Vinh throughout the dioceses of Vietnam. There were marches and sit-ins in the diocese of a Lộc Thủy, Yên Hòa, Cẩm Trường, Mành Sơn, Thanh Dạ, Sơn Trang, Xuân An, Đồng Lam, Bột Đà and Quang Lãng. Catholics carried Vatican flags, placards and banners with slogans such as "religious freedom is a right", "we are determined to protect the Church"; "we protest against the authorities Con Coung that destroyed the statue of the Virgin Mary."

    What is new is the fact that the government's attempts to intimidate the faithful on the eve of the marches failed to stop the protest.

    Saturday morning at least three armoured cars, equipped with weapons, were stationed outside the residence of the bishop of Vinh. The police in the provinces of Quang Binh, Ha Tinh, and Nghe An were put on alert, patrolling the streets of the towns of the diocese, together with groups of thugs paid by the government who surrounded the church and made threats.

    In previous days, "An Ninh Thu Do" newspaper ("The security of capital," published by Hanoi Police) had threatened to detain Le Quoc Quan, a Catholic activist in Vinh. Le Quoc Quan is a very famous lawyer in the country, who has often defended human rights and the rights of the Church. Saturday morning, the day before the Vinh march, the police raided his office and tried to drag him to the police station, but the attempt failed thanks to the intervention of the lawyer's friends and neighbours.

    Another Catholic, the prominent journalist JB Nguyen Huu Vinh, who last year was almost beaten to death in Dong Chiem, was attacked by thugs in his home on 8 July, suffering knife wounds to his back and arm.

    Saturday and Sunday, police blocked the ferries between Lam Dong and Quan Lang, to block the flow of the faithful to meeting places for the marches.

    Despite all these plans and threats, thousands of Catholics set out Saturday night, walking for miles along highway no. 1 to arrive at places for meetings designated.

    Yesterday all the marches were peaceful except in Bot Da where thugs and police disrupted Mass.

    Many young people have accused the government of "showing the military because they fear the strength of the Catholics." Atri accuse Hanoi of using the same methods now in China for suppressing religious freedom.

    (with the collaboration of Br. Paul)


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    See also

    22/09/2005 VATICAN – VIETNAM
    Cardinal Sepe to visit Vietnam in November
    The visit is strictly pastoral and has no bearing on diplomatic talks. A new diocese in Ba Ria is to be inaugurated.

    27/06/2016 16:03:00 VIETNAM – VATICAN
    "I met the true faith" of Vietnamese Christians, Mgr Girelli said

    Since January 2011, the non-resident papal representative has visited each of Vietnam’s 26 dioceses at least twice. The prelate highlighted the work of bishops, priests, religious and laity. He met with Communist authorities and paid attention to the poor and marginalised. He stressed the importance of seminars in the training of future priests.

    13/11/2012 VIETNAM - VATICAN - CHINA
    Vietnam-Holy See relations, a model for China-Vatican talks
    The establishment of a joint working group and the appointment of a (non-resident) representative opened up diplomatic channels. They could serve as an example to Beijing, which has so far failed to heed Chinese Catholics' pleas. Last week, Vietnamese and Vatican officials met.

    18/06/2013 VIETNAM - VATICAN
    Vietnamese Catholics celebrate new auxiliary bishops in Vinh and Hung Hoa
    Prayers and celebrations welcome Pope Francis's decision to appoint Fr Alphonse Nguyen Huu Long and Fr Pierre Nguyen Van Vien. The first is an expert in canon law who served as rector of the major seminary in Hue; the second holds a doctorate in theology and was vicar general in the same diocese.

    16/02/2015 VATICAN - VIETNAM
    Cardinal of Hanoi: Suffering has strengthened Church in Vietnam
    Msgr. Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon says his appointment to the College of Cardinals is a sign of "Pope Francis’ desire to introduce the distant Churches ". Through the difficulties Catholics have built a "stronger, more solid” faith. The cardinal invites to "proclaim" the Gospel with "growing force". He asks Catholics around the world to "pray for us."

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