04/02/2014, 00.00
VIETNAM

Vietnam, Con Dau Catholics suffer more land seizures and demolitions

Authorities in Da Nang want to seize the land to build a tourist resort. Latest raid just days ago with the expulsion of several families and the demolition of their homes. Police, public security and the army take part in raid. The faithful try to resist evictions, but their number is progressively dropping.

Ho Chi Minh City ( AsiaNews / EDA ) - Several families driven from their homes, houses razed to the ground and land seized: Vietnamese authorities continue to subject Catholics to raids against in Cồn Dầu, Cẩm Lệ district, Da Nang province (south-central Vietnam), at the center of a land ownership controversy. For six years, Hanoi has tried in every possible way to justify its actions with claims that they are motivated by "ecological" needs, although in reality the real goal is the construction of a luxury tourist resort. The faithful try to resist and keep the historical community alive, even if their number is dwindling with the passage of time .

The latest abuse, perpetrated by the authorities in a police raid, took place on March 27, with the expulsion of several families and the demolition of their homes. Local witnesses report that "at 7am the police surrounded the neighborhood" and blocked "access to all areas" . The sources add "there were police officers,  security agents and the army", with "bulldozers and ambulances".

The night before the local administration had cut off the supply of electricity and drinking water, and then moved in overnight undisturbed and completed the demolition work. The area of ​​Con Dau includes a cemetery and covers an area of 10 hectares. For over 135 years, the local faithful have buried their dead there . In the past , the government had indicated the cemetery among protected historical sites. In 2010 the of Đà Nẵng authorities decided to demolish all the houses and the cemetery to build a luxury resort , without offering adequate compensation to residents, or aid for resettlement.

Tensions exploded May 4 of that year when, during the funeral procession for Mary Tan, 82 , the police intervened to prevent the burial. The raid was followed by clashes between about 500 and faithful and police, culminating with the wounding of many Catholics and the arrest of 59 people . At the same time, the authorities sequestered the woman's coffin and cremated the body, against the wishes of the deceased. Mary Tan in fact wanted to be buried next to her husband .

As reported on several occasions not only by the Vietnamese Catholic Church, but also by authoritative international financial institutions, the vexed question of land ownership in Vietnam is not only a legal and constitutional issue, but it is a drag on economic development of the country. In just three years there have been about 700 thousand disputes over land, most of which concerned compensation issues. Data from the World Bank reports that from 2001 to 2010 about one million hectares of agricultural land has been converted for different purposes; disputes over land have blocked or delayed many of the 80 infrastructure projects funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for at least two years, for a total of $ 9 billion .

 

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