08/28/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Hanoi police threaten Redemptorists and their supporters

by J.B. An Dang
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.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The authorities of Hanoi have begun to threaten the Redemptorists and the Catholics who support them, who are calling for respect of the law in the controversy over the land belonging to the congregation and the parish of Thai Ha. The police have announced an investigation. Until now, the local authorities had repeatedly ordered the Redemptorists to stop assembling in prayer on the disputed property (in the photo), and to remove the cross and the statues of the Virgin Mary that they have placed there, while the peaceful demonstrators have been threatened with "extreme actions" if they do not remove the tents that they have set up.

Significantly, the charges from the police were made public at a press conference held last Wednesday. Vu Cong Long, a police official in the district of Dong Da, where the disputed property lies, accused the Redemptorists of using their influence to incite the faithful in a confrontation against the government, destroying state property, assembling and praying illegally in public areas, and disturbing the public order.

Vu Cong Long also criticized the superior of the Redemptorists in Vietnam, Fr Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh, for his open letter dated August 24, in which he restated the accusation that the local government illegally seized the land, and asked all the Redemptorists of Vietnam to support their confreres in Hanoi.

The Catholics of Hanoi see the announcement of the police investigation as a new form of intimidation, following the campaign of disinformation and threats carried out by the state media.

For their part, the Redemptorists of Hanoi say they are ready to go to prison for their faithful and for the sake of justice, and pledge to continue their protest until their rights are recognized.

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