09/02/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Vietnamese Catholics write to Bush complaining about the repression they are experiencing

by Nguyen Hung
The authorities have especially targeted prayer group leaders who called for the return of properties seized from the Church and local parishes.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Hanoi Catholics have written to the President of the United States Bush and the prime ministers of the Great Britain and Australia to complain about their government’s repression, hopeful that their letter might show to the world that the latter is not yet respecting human rights and religious freedom of Catholics.

In recent days Communist authorities in Hanoi have launched a harsh repression campaign against lay Catholics who meet at the parish level to pray. Traditionally Vietnamese Catholics turn to Mother Mary when they face difficulties in the life, family or parish. In doing so they are not expressing any anti-national or antipatriotic view but only pray in order that their family, community and homeland can get justice and exercise freedom of religion.

“It is worrying when the police comes to your home with a paper order when you lead a prayer group,” a young man told AsiaNews. “As a student at a state university I refrain from criticising the government or its policies. But I saw in Catholic media that the police have used violence, beaten up lay people with electric truncheons. I cannot image why four agents took a woman to their headquarters just because she and her group prayed to Our Lady in their parish everyday.”

Now the authorities are after the leaders of prayer groups who demanded that the government return land seized from the Vietnamese Church and its parishes.

Some Catholics wrote to US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Let us hope that the world will understand what the real situation is and support justice and religious freedom in Vietnam.

At noon on 28 August people gave a round of applause to Christian Marchant from the US Embassy when he showed up in Thai Ha parish to listen and see for himself how the government carried out repression against innocent people.

Upon his return he will report to the US government. This way the United States will clearly see that the government does not yet respect human rights and justice for Vietnamese Catholics.

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