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    » 09/15/2008, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    Hanoi authorities’ unkept promises over Thai Ha

    Nguyen Hung

    In a letter Redemptorist superior describes his attempts to solve by dialogue the dispute over land seized from the parish. Nine Vietnamese bishops have come to express their solidarity to the faithful who demand justice and non-discrimination for Catholics.
    Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Only promises that were not even kept is what Fr Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh, Redemptorist superior in Vietnam, was able to get from Hanoi authorities after trying to engage them in a dialogue in order to solve the dispute over Thai Ha Parish land which Catholics are trying to peacefully recover. It is also the gist of a letter he sent to Redemptorists around the country, urging them to pray for the parish and ask for the help of saints and the blessed who suffered persecution.

    In a letter to AsiaNews Fr Nguyen Trung Thanh also called for continued coverage of the Thai Ha affair since the “Communist Party relies on state media for its own purposes, spreading distorted information, bearing false witness with false witnesses against us.

    In the letter dated 4 September he wrote: “We were able to talk to top officials in the Committee for Religious Affairs and the Public Security Ministry and present them with our aspirations for justice and peace.”

    In his approach to the authorities clergyman demanded they end their anti-Catholic campaign, and “stop all reports on newspaper, radio and television that bear false accusations to defame us, [. . .] release all those who have been arrested,” and “seriously discuss with us the Thai Ha dispute in order to return the land to us.”

    “There were promises [from state officials],” he said, but unfortunately “even the simple promise to stop the assault by state-run on against us was never respected!”

    Still Catholics continue to offer gestures of solidarity and communion with Thai Ha parishioners. Altogether nine bishops from northern Vietnam have come to the parish to pray for justice, truth and Christians’ faith. Hundreds of priests have celebrated Mass every day to an average of about 2,000 people who every day take part in the prayer vigils demanding justice (see photo).

    “We come here,” a group leader told AsiaNews, “to pray Mother Mary and call on local authorities to return the land to the parish, acting with justice towards us and without discrimination towards Vietnamese Catholics.”

    “We want our country to develop economically, socially and culturally as well as in terms of religious freedom. The authorities must find ways to address this problem. They should not use repression and violence against people. Revolutionary cadres must serve the people with the utmost dedication,” he said. “Lest they forget, Vietnam’s Catholics have had many experiences, and the more we have been persecuted, the stronger has grown our faith.”

    With the collaboration of J.B. An Dang.

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    See also

    27/03/2009 VIETNAM
    Sentence against faithful of Thai Ha upheld. Catholics protest injustice
    The appeals court has reconfirmed the sentence against the 8 who were calling for the return of land belonging to the parish. This morning, 5,000 Catholics marched for 12 kilometers to the site of the trial, and were stopped by 1,000 police officers in riot gear with guard dogs. The state television channel accuses the Redemptorists, and recommends that they be arrested. In Saigon, 5,000 Catholics and non-Catholics - together with local political authorities - took part in a prayer vigil. The eight defendants are "like Jesus."

    26/03/2009 VIETNAM
    Thai Ha defendants’ appeal opens tomorrow as their attorney is harassed again and again
    The authorities are conducting a campaign of persecution against the lawyer, including detention, searches, interrogation, phone threats, banning him from travelling to Hanoi where the trial is slated to take place, as well as taking away from him his licence to practice. Against all this state media is carrying out a smear campaign against him as a person and a law professional.

    18/11/2011 VIETNAM
    Catholics take to the streets in Hanoi demanding justice
    Thousands of faithful began demonstrating this morning to defend Thai Ha Parish against the unlawful seizure of what is left of its land. They also protested against the defamation campaign against them by state TV.

    26/11/2008 VIETNAM
    Vietnamese Catholics on trial denied access to their lawyer
    Lawyer says he has evidence of their innocence but is afraid proceedings will turn into a political show trial that will prevent acquittal. The Federation of Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media calls on Hanoi to respect its own laws.

    11/10/2008 VIETNAM
    Children's newspaper joins campaign against Catholics of Hanoi
    In the periodical, intended for elementary school children, "a student" says he lost his faith because of the behavior of the archbishop. Superior of Redemptorists ordered to appear in court.



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