01/26/2010, 00.00
VIETNAM

Violence has won: crosses removed from Dong Chiem

J.B. An Dang
"Escorted" by police, some faithful were forced to bring the crucifixes that had placed on the mountain home. State media speak of parishioners "persuaded and educated" by the authorities, the parish priest denies it was a voluntary act.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - In the end, brute force has won. "Escorted" by police, some believers from Dong Chiem climbed the mountain to bring back crosses (pictured) that had been planted by people after 6 January, when police and soldiers had blown up the crucifix that once stood there.

The media regime (Hà Nội Mới, An Ninh Thủ Đô, Radio The Voice of Vietnam, Hanoi Television), as is there usual habit, yesterday gave a tamer, triumphalist version of the story, according to which "on Sunday 24 after a lengthy period, convinced and educated by officials of the town of An Phu and the County of My Duc, under the leadership of the parish priest Nguyen Van Huu and his vicar Nguyen Van Lien, a group of parishioners removed all the crosses from Che mountain ".

This reconstruction of events has been rejected by two priests, who throughout the episode were  publicly insulted through loudspeakers and repeatedly harassed by police with a series of orders to appear before police and long hours of interrogation. "On Friday - said the head of the parish - the loudspeaker announced the decision of the local leaders of the Communist Party and the civil and military authorities to remove all the crosses from the mountain on Sunday 24th. "A group of parishioners were forced by officials to implement the decision, under close police surveillance. It was not done voluntarily. We protested against the removal of the crosses. "

The good news is that, having won their battle, the hundreds of police agents and activists who had occupied the village are now leaving, "to return to normal life," state media say.  

But it seems they have no desire to end to their attacks against Catholics. Redemptorist Father Peter Nguyen Van Khai, is now under fire accused of "organizing pilgrimages to Dong Chiem" and "exaggerating the scope of incidents, for political reasons." Nor has the campaign ended against the archbishop of Hanoi, Mgr. Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet and the one against the Redemptorist parish of Thai Ha, qualified as "instigators of riots”, for which severe punishment is being demanded.

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