Fr. Vo Thanh Tam, secretary of the College of Priests of Vinh Diocese (which belongs to Dong Hoi) confirmed that several Catholics were arrested a few days ago and that yesterday “Mr. Nguyen Cong Ly was arrested. His house is frequently used by the faithful for liturgical services”. In fact there are no churches in the area, the only one being Tam Toa, which is in ruins and which the government wants to use as a "memorial" to the war against the United States. Other sources say that the area is being used to build a tourist village (see AsiaNews 21/07/09 - Beatings and arrests of priests and faithful in the historic church of Tam Toa).
According to witnesses, the police and groups of thugs are roaming the streets and attacking those who visibly wear Catholic religious symbols.
In recent weeks a group of faithful tried to repair the ruins of Tam Toa, but were stopped by police, brutally beaten and arrested. To demand their release impressive demonstrations were held by Catholics in the diocese of Vinh, in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), in Hanoi and other cities.
Immediately after the episode in Tam Toa, hundreds of Catholic families fled Dong Hoi to find refuge in Ha Tinh and Nghe An (also in the diocese of Vinh).
Meanwhile more than 600 state media began a campaign of disinformation against the Catholics of Tam Toa, demanding they be charged and inciting hatred toward Catholics.