» 04/02/2014, 00.00
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
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
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
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.
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 .
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
Saigon: Authorities threaten Catholics over disputed land
At the center of the dispute , the parish of Thu Thiem and buildings used by a group of nuns. District 2 authorities intend to take possession of the area, despite the centennial presence of the Christian community, in violation of the Constitution. The faithful accuse the government of Ho Chi Minh City of "covering up abuse" and scuttling "historical and cultural traditions".
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.
Vietnamese bishops invite the government to take part in dialogue and adopt fair land laws
Existing land laws are the main cause of the country’s social tensions because they invest all power in the state. This has led to abuses of power and has made corruption easier. Vietnam’s Catholic prelates reiterate Benedict XVI’s view that the Church does not replace the government but seeks only and in a spirit of dialogue and respectful collaboration to play its just role in the life of nation and in the service of the whole people.
Saigon, government threatens to demolish Catholic churches and Buddhist temples
A development plan for an area south of Ho Chi Minh City includes the demolition of places of worship. The Inter-religious Council has launched a petition to stop the project. According to the urban development plan the area is zoned for housing and shopping malls, but not places of worship. A nun: "The government wants to drive us out."
Loan Ly police chase children from catechism class
Another case of conflict over church land in a village in the diocese of Hue. Local Vietnamese prefer police intervention to dialogue to resolve the problem.
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