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Press Release: On the abuse of social media system, police and gangs by the communist government of Vietnam against Thai Ha Parish
PRESS RELEASE
(For immediate release)

Contact: Rev. Paul Van- Chi Chu
Tel: (02) 9773 0933
Mobile: 0410 552 650

Sydney -November 10, 2011 - The Federation of Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media protests before the international community and sternly condemns the ongoing abuse of social media system, police and gangs by the communist government of Vietnam to repress and sully the will for justice, peace, and truth of our brother and sister parishioners of Thai Ha, Hanoi.

At 14:45 on November 3, 2011 a group of about 100 people, who, from nowhere, broke into the courtyard of Thai Ha parish church with two loud speakers in their hands cursing at our religious, priests, and parishioners, before physically attacking them. The intruders also insulted and threatened to kill many clergy and parishioners. More outrageously, they even used sledgehammers to smash the church's properties. They only abandoned their act of terror, and withdrew when the bells started tolling and countless people from the neighbouring parishes came to rescue.

The terrorists were gone, but the aftermath at Thai Ha parish and Redemptorist monastery these days seems to be worsened as Hanoi authorities are increasing their vengeful pressure on the shaken Thai Ha monastery and parish. A small army of secret and plainclothes police, as well as militiamen is closely watching and monitoring the movements in and out of Thai Ha church all days and nights, with the aids of high tech cameras strategically installed around the parish church and the activity centre.

This violent attack bore resemblance to the 2008 surprise attack also aimed at Thai Ha parish. On Sunday Sep. 21, 2008 the monastery's chapel was ransacked with statues destroyed, and books torn to pieces. In addition, "the gang yelled out slogans threatening to kill priests, religious, faithful and even our archbishop," wrote Fr. Matthew Vu Khoi Phung, Superior of Hanoi Redemptorist Monastery in a protest letter sent to People's Committee of Hanoi City and police agencies of Hanoi and Dong Da district, referring to then Archbishop of Hanoi Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet.

As a response to his complaint, on Nov. 11, a second attack came by an even larger crowd of thugs.

The Vietnamese government has repeatedly denied any responsibilities for these violent actions attributing them to "spontaneous people" who had acted "to protect the society, and to prevent Catholics from causing social chaos."

The last terrorist episode at Thai Ha parish was met with fierce criticism from the religious leaders and communities throughout Vietnam. Right after the attack, Hanoi's Archbishop and Kontum's Bishop voiced their support to the position of Thai Ha Redemptorists and parishioners. Catholic congregations from North to South have held numerous prayer vigils in communion with Thai Ha community. On the internet, many non-Christians had expressed their concerns and supports for the Thai Ha cause, marginalizing the effect of a massive media attack by state run outlets before and immediately after the Nov 3 incident for the purpose of misleading the public about the Thai Ha priests, parishioners and their relentless quest for justice and truth.

For years, Redemptorist priests and their faithful have requested for the requisition of their land illegally seized by the state.

What has repeatedly named as "public property" on the state claims was actually purchased by the Redemptorists in 1928 for the sole purpose of building a monastery and a church. The Redemptorist monastery was dedicated on May 7, 1929 and the church 6 years later. After the communist took control over North Vietnam, the local government had nibbled piece by piece on the monastery and parish land. The area occupied by the monastery had been reduced from 61,455 square meters down to 2,700 square meters.

On Jan. 6, 2008, parishioners protested a State plan to sell their land to private estate developers for profit. In response, after a series of attacks, arrests and even putting on trials against parishioners, the government hastily converted the land into a public park.

While the need to expand space for worship and parish activities keeps swelling, the clergy and faithful at Thai Ha have no other choice than asking for their land and properties back. While maintaining its right to manage the properties, the Vietnamese government so far has not been able to produce any legal documents to back their illegal claims on the disputed areas because the land and structures were arbitrarily taken from the Catholics by the local officials. The seizure was illegal by the very definition of Vietnam's law, a system of rules which grossly violates the international convention on the rights to private property.

The Federation of the Vietnamese Catholics Mass Media sternly condemns and denounces before international community the terroristic act done upon the Thai Ha parish and ask the communist government of Vietnam to do the followings:

1) ) Stop the terroristic acts against the Redemptorist monastery Thai Ha and parish.

2) Stop the persecution of the Catholic Church and other religions. Enforce security at places of worship of all religions.

3) Solemnly abide the law promulgated by its own government and return all seized properties to the Catholic Church and other religions in Vietnam.

4) Absolutely respect Human Rights and Religious Freedom as the Charter of the United Nations affirmed.

With our complete trust in God, we would be in communion, share and accompany Thai Ha parish in their way of the cross. We earnestly call for all Congresses, governments, political parties of all nations, the Human Rights organizations, the Amnesty Internationals,

the International Commission on Human Rights, any organizations with special concerns for Freedom and Human Rights in Vietnam, and the World Communication Agencies to please accompany us in the struggle for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in Vietnam.

Contacts:

Monsignor Peter Nguyen Van Tai
Director of Radio VERITAS Asia
Rev. John Tran Cong Nghi
Director of VietCatholic News Agency
Rev. Joachim Viet-Chau Nguyen Duc
Editor of the People of God Monthly Magazine ( in America)
Rev. Anthony Nguyen Huu Quang
Editor of the People of God Monthly Magazine ( in Australia )
Rev. Stephen Luu Thuong Bui
Editor of the People of God Monthly Magazine (in Europe)
Rev. Paul Van- Chi Chu
Vice President of Vietcatholic Network, Sydney Australia

The Federation of Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media

(source: http://www.vietcatholic.net/News/Html/93920.htm)

Posted on 16 Nov 2011

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