Local authorities in Ho Chi Minh City seized land and demolished 503 homes, with losses topping US$ 4 million. The City and "interest groups" plan to speculate on the sale of the land. Every evening at 7 pm, residents pray the rosary under the statue of Mary.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – On 22 August, the world celebrated the first International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief established last May by the United Nations General Assembly.
For the occasion, a Redemptorist priest shared his thoughts about religious freedom in Vietnam with AsiaNews. In particular, Fr Vu focused on the situation of Catholics victims of forced land grabs in Lộc Hưng Gardens (Vườn Rau Lộc Hưng), Ho Chi Minh City.
Coincidentally, the Joint Working Group between Vietnam and the Holy See ended a meeting at the Vatican on 22 August. Their joint statement read: “The Vietnamese delegation reiterated that the State of Vietnam has been increasingly improving the execution of the consistent policy of respecting and ensuring freedom of belief and religion, creating a conducive environment for the activities and development of the Catholic community in Viet Nam.”
On 22 August this year, there was an exceptional event. For the first time, the UN celebrated International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.
Responding with devotion to the appeal, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam (CBCV) wrote to parishes, dioceses and religious orders to encourage them to hold prayer services for the oppressed, especially in Vietnam.
The call was followed by numerous vigils and moments of prayer for the victims of religious persecution under the communist regime. Vietnam’s non-religious government views religion as a drug that turns people into enemies of the state. For this reason, it believes religion should be eliminated.
Among those who took part in the prayer meetings, the residents of the Lộc Hưng Gardens (pictured) deserve special consideration. They are God's disciples who deeply believe in their Lord Jesus Christ. They fled North Vietnam when it was seized by the Communists and settled in the South, hoping to preserve their Catholic faith.
In the last seven months, these people have suffered as a result of the illegal seizure of their land and property. During this time, the communist authorities tore down the houses built around the gardens.
It should be noted that, on 1 and 4 January 2019, local authorities were forced to use force and send in bulldozers to seize the land and demolish homes.
According to estimates by lawyers involved in the case, 503 homes and properties worth 100 billion Vietnamese dongs (US$ 4,311,631) have been lost. Since the illegal action, the administration has not negotiated directly with the residents.
The latter, mindful of their obligations and responsibilities as citizens, have sent many letters of complaint - from the provincial level to the national level - and sued local communist authorities. For all their trouble, they have only elicited "silence" on the part of the government.
Despite their utter poverty, residents come together at 7 pm to pray the Rosary with devotion, near the statue of the Virgin Mary situated in front of the Lộc Hưng Gardens, come what may: wind, rain or flood.
Today, 22 August, responding to the appeal of the Justice and Peace Commission, Lộc Hưng residents pray not only for themselves; instead, they lit candles in communion with all believers in Jesus who are victims of religious persecution in their country.