» 09/23/2013, 00.00
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
Thai Ha property has also become a public park
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With the clear intention of intimidation, security forces charge the religious with using their influence to incite the faithful in a confrontation with the government, destroying state property, assembling and praying illegally in public areas, and disturbing the public order.
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