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mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
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» 04/05/2013
VIETNAM
Peter Doan Van Vuon, anti-forced evictions hero, gets five years
Despite the convictions, the family's punishment was not as bad as expected. The men in fact got two to five years in prison whilst the women were handed down suspended sentences. Although blaming them for the bad "impact on social order", the judge decided to avoid a verdict that could fuel social tensions.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Peter Doan Van Vuon, head of a brave family that dared to fight back against forced expropriation by the authorities, was sentenced to five years in prison. Given the fact that he was on trial for attempted murder, the People's Court in Hai Phong, a port city in the northern Vietnam, was surprisingly lenient.

Following the exceptionally speedy trial, the other three men in the family were given sentences that ranged from two to five years. The women received lighter suspended sentences.

The presiding judge, Pham Duc Tuyen, said that the family's actions had "[violated] the normal operations of state agencies and [caused a] bad impact on social order."

During the trial, the main accused and his relatives pleaded not guilty. In his defence, Doan said that he did not intend to kill anybody: "I was left with no option," he said.

Despite the conviction, local legal experts noted that the verdict is more lenient than expected. It appears that, under pressure from the government, the judge chose not to be heavy-handed to avoid raising social tensions and causing possible street demonstrations in favour of a family that has gained notoriety and acclaim in the battle to defend its rights.

Their story is just the latest in a long series of cases involving clashes between the authorities and ordinary Vietnamese, or the government and the Catholic Church, over ownership of land, buildings or businesses.

In this particular case, the dispute revolves around 40 hectares of land leased to Peter Doan Van Vuon by the government in 1993.

After many years of hard work, the family turned marshland and swamps into a fish farm. In 2009, when the business began to turn a profit, the authorities demanded the return of the property. After a long legal battle, the government issued an ultimatum on 24 November 2011, telling the family to vacate the farm and business. 

Instead of giving in, Peter and his family put up a fight. When soldiers came to enforce the government's decision on 5 January 2012, they were greeted with bullets and grenades, made not to kill but to deny the invaders access to the property.

No one was killed or wounded during the standoff, but in the end, the police were able to break in and arrest the family with its members eventually put on trial for attempted murder.

Such a strong willingness to defend one's rights has been met with support from Catholics and non-Catholics, amazed by Doan Vuon's determination to protect his family's life work.

Recently, Mgr Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, who heads the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church, and Joseph Vu Van Thien, bishop of Hai Phong, started a petition to get the accused acquitted.

Even Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in the past described such land grabs as unlawful and promised to prosecute the corrupt officials responsible for them.


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See also
01/28/2013 VIETNAM
Thousands of Catholics and non-Catholics pray for rights and religious freedom
by Thanh Thuy
06/28/2013 VIETNAM
Catholic lawyer in jail on false charges prays and fasts before his trial
10/08/2008 VIETNAM
At a difficult time for Vietnamese Church, ordination of bishop of Bac Ninh
by Nguyen Hung
04/02/2014 VIETNAM
Vietnam, Con Dau Catholics suffer more land seizures and demolitions
05/22/2013 VIETNAM
Vietnamese Catholics pray for release of Vinh Christian activists
by Paul N. Hung

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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