Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Vietnamese police attacked hundreds of Catholics protesting
in front of their church, using live ammunition and throwing grenades. Protesters
were demanding the release of two parishioners arrested in June and held
According to eyewitness
accounts, the incident, which took place yesterday in My Yen Parish, Nghe An
province (north-central coastal region), was one of the most violent and bloody
acts of repression carried out by the authorities in recent years.
number of people ended up in hospital for medical treatment with some patients in
serious condition transferred urgently to Hanoi.
batons and fired into the air to disperse the crowd, arresting an unspecified
number of demonstrators.
TV reported that about 300 people went to the Nghi Phuong village People's
Committee building in Nghi Loc district early Wednesday morning, saying they
would not budge until My Yen parishioners Ngo Van Khoi and Nguyen Van Hai were
freed after their unwarranted detention.
A day earlier,
about 1,000 people, some of them carrying large banners, had campaigned for the
high also because for two days, the authorities had announced the release of
the two men without actually doing so.
[police] fired 15 [gun] shots in front of the My Yen church. They beat some
parishioners with electric batons," an eyewitness told Radio Free Asia (RFA).
A website linked
to the Vietnamese Redemptorist Church posted pictures of dozens of people receiving
treatment for serious injuries to the head, hand, stomach, and neck.
said up to 3,000 police officers and soldiers may have been mobilised in the
crackdown. According to some eyewitnesses, police tried to stop people from
Ngo Van Khoi and
Nguyen Van Hai were detained last June by men belonging to security agencies. They
have been held without a formal indictment since then.
have reported that they are in prison for "disturbing public order", but
no specific incident was mentioned that would justify their detention.
In Vietnam, the
authorities continue their repression against bloggers, activists and
dissidents seeking religious freedom, respect for civil rights, and the end of one-party
hegemony, which is now the object of a petition.
In 2013 alone,
Hanoi arrested more than 40 activists for crimes "against the state", a
charge useful for repression but too "generic" and "vague" for human
Church has also been forced to submit to limits and restrictions, its members victims
In January, a local
court sentenced 14 people, including Catholics, to prison on charges of
attempting to overthrow the government, a decision criticised forcefully by
activists and human rights groups.