04/27/2009, 00.00
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Hanoi authorities renew their attack against Thai H Redemptorists

by J.B. An Dang
Clergymen are summoned by police reacting to a complaint filed by the monastery’s superior against a construction plan that involves seizing more parish-owned land.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Tensions are boiling over again between Redemptorists from Thai Ha parish and the authorities. The reason is the same: Church property seized by the authorities. After taking most of the land owned by the local parish church and the nearby Redemptorist monastery, using the court system and the law to try and send to prison peaceful protesters demanding justice through prayers, the authorities now want more Church-owned land, namely 18,230 m2 along Lake Ba Giang.

A new development plan includes the area but is facing opposition. Redemptorist monastery superior, Fr Matthew Vu Khoi Phung, filed complaint before various government agencies, stressing that the land belongs to the Church.

In his application Fr Matthew Vu cited article 70 of the constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam which says: “Public places of religious worship are protected by law” to object to the invasion of the area and the start of construction.

In his appeal he called on the Dong Da District People’s Committee to order the suspension of the work underway and the removal of all the machinery already there.

After the complaint was filed Redemptorist spokesman Fr Peter Nguyen Van Khai (pictured) was repeatedly summoned by police.

Last Saturday the police sent three urgent summonses, calling on the clergyman to appear in person before the Hanoi Criminal Investigation Department to explain “a number of documents”.

Fr Peter Nguyen replied by saying that he could not comply with the order because of his many week-end pastoral responsibilities.

The police sent two more summons, using a threatening tactic to impose binding legal obligations upon him.

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