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Vietnam confiscates Catholic Church and land


The Vietnamese Government has ordered the confiscation and destruction of a Catholic church to make way for a museum, according to a report from the rights group Free Vietnam Alliance.

In mid-June, the priest of Thanh Quang parish near Da Nang city received a letter instructing him to turn over the church and adjacent land by 25 June. Parish priest Fr Nguyen Huu Long and Archbishop Nguyen Binh Tinh of Da Nang had previously resisted pressure to appear before the authorities seeking transfer of ownership.

On the day of the deadline, four priests in the surrounding parishes jointly celebrated Mass with thousands of parishioners of Thanh Quang. The Public Security agents decided to not to take action in front of the crowd, but instead took pictures and video of participants that was interpreted as an intimidation strategy.

On 29 June, Public Security again summoned Fr Long to their office and demanded an immediate surrender of the properties. Fr Long said he did not have the authority to do so and the decision rested with the parishioners and the Bishops Conference of Vietnam. He also handed the government a letter, signed by over 200 representatives of the parishioners, refusing to relinquish their church. As of the end of June, the phone line to the parish had been cut off, which the Free Vietnam Alliance believes was a sign of imminent use of force by the government.


CWN/FVA


10-Jul-01