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  • » 09/23/2013, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    Hanoi, fresh attacks on Thai Ha Catholics’ property

    J.B. An Dang

    The communist authorities want to expropriate more land belonging to the Redemptorists . Development plans and economic interests behind the seizure. Priests and faithful say the measure is "illegal", unethical and violates the rights of the Christian community.

    Hanoi ( AsiaNews) - Hanoi authorities have opened a new battle front with Catholics with an expropriation order issued by the Department for Urbanism and lease of land owned by the Redemptorists of Thai Ha parish, near lake Ba Giang.  The priests, religious and faithful say the measure is " illegal" and constitutes a " violation" of the rights of the Christian community , as explained in a letter published in recent days by the superior Fr . Matthew Vu Khoi Phung . In the letter sent to the president of the local Communist People's Committee Nguyen The Thao , the priest bears witness to the surprise and discontent of the faithful of Hanoi, in reference to the proposed changes to the area in question, which for Catholics it is only a " pretext" to deny their rights and give way to the realization of new building projects as has already happened in the past.

    The superior Fr . Matthew explains that the land around lake Ba Giang "belongs to, is cared for and used" by the Redemptorists in Hanoi since 1928 , and , he adds, "we have never granted, given or transferred the right to use any part of land to individuals or organizations". He goes on to mention that it is an "act contrary to the Constitution and the law," an attempt by the People's Committee of Hanoi - through the Department for urbanism - to build on the land of the parish, in the face of numerous petitions to the contrary.

    The priest says it is also an act that offends "moral and common sense" and that will eventually cause "serious damage to the rights and interests" of religious organizations, as "an offense against the faith and feelings of religious believers". Five years after the demolition of the Marian shrine for the creation of a public park, Hanoi authorities are preparing to requisition another important piece of Christian history in the Vietnamese capital.

    For years, the priests and faithful of Thai Hai have been denouncing the illegal seizure of land by the State. In November 2011, hundreds of police and soldiers with dogs and thugs , followed by a state television crew, attacked the convent of Thai Ha, shouted abuse through megaphones , threw stones and smashed the door . The assault was interrupted by the faithful from neighboring parishes, who flocked to the convent called by the bells of the church of Thai Ha.

    What the state claims as "public property" was purchased by Redemptorists in 1928. When the Communists took over in 1945, the authorities gradually whittled away parish-owned land. Thus, the area occupied by the monastery went from 61,455 m2 to 2,700 m2.  The dispute reached its apex in 2008 and 2009 when thousands of Catholics demonstrated for days on end in front of the convent demanding an end to the seizures. Their efforts came to naught as more land was taken and eight Catholics brought to court for disturbing the public order.

     

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    See also

    08/01/2009 VIETNAM
    New directive from Hanoi on Church property: nothing will be given back
    A norm, with obscure provisions, affirms that the use of ecclesiastical property granted by the state to "organizations" must respect the purpose of this property, and not offend the sentiments of the faithful. Who will be harshly punished if they protest.

    25/01/2010 VIETNAM
    Thousands of Catholics pray for Dong Chiem, the parish under siege
    Vigils were held in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, prayers for the faithful and priests, and also for the Vietnamese government. Despite the threats made against those who had taken part in the vigils and the presence of police forces around the churches, there were no incidents.

    09/10/2008 VIETNAM
    Thai Ha property has also become a public park
    Police arrest and threaten priests and faithful, but some of those arrested have been released from jail. Now the authorities to warn that the sewer line will pass through the site of the chapel of St. Gerard. The media campaign against the bishop continues.

    25/11/2008 VIETNAM
    Trial against eight Catholics from Thai Ha begins December 5
    The accusation is that they destroyed property and disturbed public order, but even the police left off the first charge initially. It refers to the toppling of a three-meter section of a wall, which the authorities then destroyed completely to create a public park.

    17/11/2008 VIETNAM
    New attack on parish of Thai Ha
    An official of the people's committe tries to keep the Redemptorists occupied, while members of party organizations attack the chapel of Saint Gerardo. Summoned by bells, phone calls, and e-mails, hundreds of faithful come, and the attackers leave. The operation raises troubling questions.



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