» 09/16/2013, 00.00
Vietnamese Government and State TV launch fresh attacks on Bishop of Vinh
J.B. An Dang
A 10 minute report aired last night made slanderous accusations against Msgr. Paul Nguyen Thai Hop and the local Catholic community . The prelate is charged with leading a revolt , exploiting a story to create legal cases of religious persecution . Diocesan website risks closure. Vietnamese Catholics at home and abroad united in defense of the prelate.
Vinh (AsiaNews) - Vietnamese
authorities, with the support of the media, have launched a new , violent
attack against the Vinh diocese and Msgr . Paul
Nguyen Thai Hop, "guilty" of asking for the release of two
parishioners imprisoned for months without motive. In
a 10-minute report broadcast last night by state television harsh accusations were
made against the prelate , guilty of "lying , breaking the law on purpose
and inciting to revolt " against Hanoi. The
Catholics are accused of having "artfully fabricated" a legal issue -
this is what the authorities say - to transform it into a case of "religious
persecution ." And
the smear campaign was followed by threats against the Catholic community of My
Yen and Nghe An, with the promise of "new arrests" if the protests
an interview with foreign journalists - claimed the state television broadcast
service in Hanoi yesterday - t Bishop Nguyen Thai Hop manipulated the truth, made
false accusations against the government of Vietnam in order to transform what
is a normal procedure into a case of
persecution against the Church . " The
prelate also apparently "took advantage" of Catholics and their good
faith to "foment riots." The
report ended with a warning , which sounded more like a threat : "no one
is above the law" and there will be " more arrests " if the
with the bishop, the Vietnamese authorities have also targeted the website of
the diocese of Vinh . Ngo
Ba Hao , vice - president of the Committee for telecommunications , sent an
urgent letter to Msgr. Paul
urgent letter to the prelate asking him to shut down the Web site of the
diocese or face legal actions as the Web site is operated without the
government permission. In fact, the government has never
granted any such permission to Church institutions. Due to pastoral needs,
dioceses in Vietnam run their websites at the risk of being prosecuted at any
The entire Vietnamese
Catholic Church, both domestic and in diaspora, has shown full support to the
Diocese of Vinh in its responds to recent defamatory attack by government
media, defending the good name of its bishop and community and reiterating the
baseless accusations of the authorities.
dispute is really over events linked to the parish in My yen, which is seeking
the release of two parishioners who have been in jail since last June without
even a formal accusation being made against them. The
diocese of Vinh and its bishop intervened in defense of the imprisoned
parishioners, requesting the release , and the entire community , legitimizing
the protests . The
support of the diocesan Catholic leadership has sparked the reaction of the
local and central authorities , who have launched a smear campaign against
Nguyen Thai Hop and threatened to intervene harshly to quell the protest.
some time now, the
Vietnamese government has been involved in a campaign of repression against
bloggers, activists and dissidents seeking religious freedom, respect for civil
rights, or the end of the one-party state. A petition has been launched for that purpose. In 2013 alone, Hanoi has arrested more than
40 activists for crimes "against the state", a legal notion human
rights groups consider too general and vague. The Catholic Church has also been subjected to
constraints and restrictions; its members, victims of persecution. In one case
back in January, a Vietnamese court sentenced 14 people, including some
Catholics, to prison on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, a
ruling criticised forcefully by and human rights activists and movements.
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