Police of Hanoi must stop repressing religion in the name of public order

Saigon Dec 3, 2011

VRNs (12-3-2011) Saigon- A large number of parishioners, religious novices and three Redemptorists of Thai Ha Parish, Vietnam were beaten and arrested on Friday morning (Dec 2, 2011)

Throughout the last month, Hanoi’s authorities have launched direct attacks at Thai Ha Parish by having thugs cause chaos at places of worship, and even having militiamen burst into church's sanctuary to threaten our priests in front of the children while Mass is in progress. On Friday Dec. 2, 2011, police arrested 2 priests, a deacon, 4 novices, and about 30 parishioners who were peacefully walking on the sidewalks and subsequently detained them at the city’s rehabilitation centre for prostitutes. In additions, Hanoi regime has also utilized its monopolistic media outlets and diplomatic channels to falsely accuse Thai Ha parish of being aggressive, obstinate and unwilling to participate in dialogues.

But, in reality, within the last two months, Thai Ha Parish had sent 4 letters presenting its position to the government at various levels and attended a face-to-face meeting with the city’s Health Department and Dong Da Hospital Administration at the office of AIC law firm. Hanoi’s authorities, however, has opted for violence. They have arrested, beaten up our parishioners and priests, instigated and recruited gangs of thugs among ordinary citizens. Worst yet, they also sent state workers to places of worship to severely desecrate the faith of our brothers and sisters.

The regime’s dishonesty has been condemned by religious leaders in Vietnam and around the world who have been demonstrating their communion to Thai Ha in this unjust treatment.

His Excellency Msgr. Michael Hoang Duc Oanh (of Kontum Diocese, Vietnam) stated "In any cases, the lack of respect for the truth and justice is always unrighteous. It’s, therefore, unacceptable for us. I think we always have to be honest and respectful to one another. The government, in particular, has to respect its citizens" (Dec 2, 2011)

His Excellency Msgr. Vincent Nguyen Van Long (of Melbourne Archdiocese, Australia) stated "I was deeply touched by the events repeatedly happening to our brother and sister parishioners at Thai Ha Parish, especially by the latest attack of Hanoi police in which they arrested and brutally assaulted those brother and sister parishioners while they were peacefully demonstrating against the injustices perpetrated by the very Hanoi government. I would like to express my profound communion to all victims and those who are courageously fighting against the tyranny."

The Very Reverend Michael Brehl, General Superior (of the International Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) wrote “We admire the commitment of the Province of Vietnam, and your own personal commitment, to support all efforts for justice and peace, especially for those in Vietnam who suffer from violence, from injustice, and from the efforts of those in the communist regime who do abuse or ignore human rights” (Nov 16, 2011)

The Reverend Alfonse Pham Hung (Archdiocesan Chancellor of Hanoi) wrote "The Archdiocese of Hanoi always asserts and respects the ownership rights of the Redemptorist Order on the 61,455 square meter piece of land located at 189 Nguyen Luong Bang, Dong Da, Hanoi, including the facility and the land lots being used by the state agencies in this area [and] The Archdiocese of Hanoi decries the uncultured and unlawful actions of those who intruded into the courtyard of the Thai Ha church and monastery with words of such offensive provocative and violent nature (Nov 4, 2011)

From this reality, the Vietnamese Redemptorist News hereby demands that:

1. The Vietnamese authorities must stop arresting our faithful, priests and religious arbitrarily and unlawfully.

2. They must cease the illegal construction on Redemptorist monastery's land immediately; and publicly recognize the truth that the facilities being used by Dong Da Hospital are legally owned by the Redemptorist Order, and that they are among those which had never been nationalized.

3. The authorities must behave in conformity with its own law, and carry out a roadmap leading to the gradual requisitions of the facilities borrowed from the Redemptorist Order so that they can be used for religious purposes. These requisitions will help to avoid losing of faith in the authorities among the Christian communities which may cause further regretful consequences.

Provincial Chargé d'affaires
Rev. Anthony Le Ngoc Thanh, C.Ss.R (signed)

Provincial Chief of the Secretariat
Rev. Joseph Dinh Huu Thoai (signed)