Five years after bulldozing a Marian shrine on the land of Hanoi’s Redemptorist monastery to turn it into a public park, government officials are plotting another conspiracy to seize another, even larger, block.

“We, the Redemptorist priests, religious and all parishioners of Thai Ha parish oppose the lawless planning scheme by the Hanoi’s Architectural Planning Institute in our parish's property of Lake Ba Giang. We ask you to stop this unlawful action since it a blatant violation against Thai Ha parish's rights to own property and to use land,” wrote Fr. Matthew Vu Khoi Phung, the monastic superior, in the letter of protest dated September 16th, 2013, sent to Nguyen The Thao, the city’s chairman.

Fr. Matthew Vu Khoi Phung said the parishioner community and the Hanoi Redemptorist Monastery were astonished and discontented upon receiving the form asking for "Opinion from agencies , organizations, individuals and communities regarding the detailed modification plan of Lake Ba Giang area, ratio of 1/500" issued by the Hanoi’s Architectural Planning Institute.

The survey, seen by many as new scheme of the local authorities, serves as a pretext for denying the legal ownership of the monastery and starting constructions on the lake.

The Prior asserted that Lake Ba Giang has been owned, managed and used by Hanoi Redemptorist Monastery since 1928 to date. "We have never donated, given, handed over or transferred the right to use any part of our land to any individual or organization.”

“Therefore, the fact that Hanoi People's Committee - through the Hanoi’s Architectural Planning Institute, unilaterally planed the construction on of our parish ground regardless of numerous objections and petitions by the Redemptorist monastery and Thai Ha parish is an act as contrary to the Constitution and the law as to the state policy on religions and on land and property. It is also contrary to morals and common sense causing serious damages to the rights and interests of religious organizations, offending the faith and religious sentiments of the faithful," lamented Fr. Matthew Vu.

Hanoi Redemptorists originally purchased 15 acres of land in 1928. In 1954, the Communist government took control of northern Vietnam and jailed or deported most of Redemptorists. This left Fr. Joseph Vu Ngoc Bich to run the church alone. Despite Fr. Vu’s persistent protests, local authorities gradually seized the parish’s land one section at a time. Consequently, the plot of land was reduced from 15 acres to its present-day size of little more than half an acre.

The government upped the ante at the beginning of 2008 with the scheme to privatise many blocks of land to local officials. Facing strong protests of the parishioners and Redemptorists, the scheme was cancelled, and these blocks were bulldozed to build a public park.

The monastery has been attacked by government thugs several times in revenge. Typically, on Saturday night, November 15, 2008, the mob ransacked the chapel while police stood by concentrating their efforts on keeping the Catholic rescuers away from the building. The monastery was vandalized, with statues destroyed and books torn off shelves and thrown on the floor. The invaders yelled, smashed everything on their way, threw stones into the monastery, and shattered the gate of Saint Gerardo Chapel. In addition, the gang yelled out slogans threatening to kill priests, religious, faithful and even Hanoi’s archbishop.