04/16/2012, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Hanoi authorities and police assault Catholic orphanage, a priest in a coma

by Trung Tin
The raid took place shortly after midnight on April 14. Structure devastated, children beaten, Fr. Nguyen Van Binh, who spoke out in defense of the young guests seriously injured,. He was admitted unconscious, then taken to the archdiocesan curia. The faithful denounce the latest violation of religious freedom.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - A group of thugs, with the cooperation of the police, stormed a Christian orphanage in Hanoi, damaging the building and even beating the children who are guests of the center. The thugs seriously injured a priest, who spoke out in defense of innocent young victims. He was rushed to a hospital in the capital, unconscious from the blows received to the head during the raid. The local Catholic community have denounced the latest episode of persecution operated with the connivance of the communist authorities and appeal to the archdiocese and the Church hierarchy, to strongly denounce the violation of human rights and religious freedom in the country.

Witnesses told AsiaNews that on the morning of 14 April, the police of the town of Thuy Tien Xuân and local authorities in Chuong My district, Hanoi, sent a group of thugs to attack a Catholic orphanage in the capital, the Agape Family. The structure is supported by the work of Catholic volunteers and the active contribution of Fr. Nguyen Van Binh, vicar of the parish of Yên Kien, in the Archdiocese of Hanoi. The assailants have escaped unscathed, thanks to police cover.

According to reports, shortly after midnight the thugs cut the electricity of the center, then they started throwing stones and objects to scare the children. A neighbor, on condition of anonymity, said that "they hit the altar of the Madonna. A child was carried away" and when he tried to rebel "they took him repeatedly slapping him in the face". Later "at least 200 policemen arrived" to help the mob destroy the Agape Family centre.

After learning of the attack, Fr. Nguyen Van Binh immediately ran to the orphanage but was struck several times by police with batons. He suffered severe head injuries (pictured) and fell into a coma. At first he was transported to hospital in Chuong My, then transferred to a hospital Vietnamese-German structure in Đức Viet, in a life-threatening condition. Faithful were also wounded in the attack. In the early afternoon of April 14, the priest returned to the Hanoi Archbishop's Curia, to be treated "strictly in private".

A parishioner told AsiaNews that Fr. Nguyễn was very active in the care of disadvantaged children. "The government - he added - must respect and encourage these charitable activities. In contrast, the local communist authorities prevented him and destroyed the orphanage." Another faithful appeals to the leaders of the archdiocese of Hanoi and the Committee for Justice and Peace of the Vietnamese Church to denounce the latest episode of the violation of Christians' rights in the country.

(J.B. An Dang collaborated)

 

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