09/11/2014, 00.00
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Vinh: priests against government imposed birth control

Eight priests have sent a letter of formal complaint to the authorities on behalf of 18 thousand local Catholics. They denounce the heavy administrative sanctions, which particularly affect poor rural families. Those who violate the law are facing fines amounting to an average monthly salary.

Vinh (AsiaNews / EDA) - The priests of the diocese of Vinh, North Vietnam, where communist authorities unleashed violent anti-Christian persecution in the recent past, have launched a protest campaign against the policy of birth control imposed by the government. Hanoi has promulgated family planning rules of two births for every family; the law is especially being applied in rural areas, among poor households, which in the case of a third child are punished with the utmost vigor and rigor.

Protesting the norms as unfair and against basic human rights, on August 25 eight priests of the deanery of Nhan Hoa - Vinh diocese - drafted a joint letter to Nghi Loc district authorities. They, they are officially protesting against the policy of birth control on behalf of 18 thousand Catholics of the region denouncing the administrative sanctions, which seriously undermines household budgets and livelihoods.

Many local families have three children, and even more.  The priests say they are the victim of intolerable and discriminatory treatment, having to pay fines of up to  55 Euros (almost an average monthly salary). They also denounce local authorities refusal to record the births in the civil register. In the letter the priests remind the government that Vietnam has signed the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989 by the United Nations.

In the following days, the authorities of the district of Nghi Loc confirmed that they have received the letter and assured they will open a formal investigation on the matter. A response that has disappointed the signatories, who want clear answers from those in charge of population control policies in place in the country and possible actions for birth control.

The Vinh priests' protest reflect an ongoing attempt by Vietnamese authorities to stop the population growth of a population which, in 2014, exceeded 90 million inhabitants. The birth control laws in force today relate to a 2003 norm, which has been repeatedly amended, most notably in 2008. The goal is to prevent families from having more than two children and severely punishes couples who violate law.


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