Facing the relentless smear campaign against Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop of Vinh and his diocese, a Bishop in the Central Height lands of Vietnam urges the government to stop lying and embark on the Journey of Reconciliation with its own people.

In a letter sent to Thai Van Hang, the vice chairman of the Province of Nghe An, Bishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh urged the government official not to put more wood to the fire that has been caused so much sufferings in the region hit hard by both natural and man-made disasters. Last week, the Wutif Typhoon left a trail of destruction in the region with flooded roads, power lines torn up along the national Route 1A, thousands of houses collapsed and dozens of church damaged.

Thai Van Hang, who was in charge of the attacks against parishioners of My Yen on Sept. 4, has recently led a smear campaign on state media against Bishop Paul Nguyen and his diocese. The letter was a reply to the Communiqué sent by the vice chairman to each individual bishop in Vietnam in an obvious attempt to isolate the Bishop of Vinh after an interview with AsiaNews on 18 September, in which Msgr. Paul Nguyen Thai Hop described the situation for Christians there as “dangerous and worrying”, appealing to the international community and called for the observance of human rights, the release of the two men still detained, and reparations for the victims of the attacks on 4 September.

Rejecting outright and bluntly accusations against his brother Bishop of Vinh, wrote Bishop Michael Hoang,"I myself has been a long-term victim of attacks similar to that in My Yen. You can study incidents at Hieu Dao Church (1975), Ninh Duc Church (1982), the land of Le Chi Church (1996), incidents of Catholic persecution in K'bang and Kon Chro (2010), Turia Yop (2012) or the latest wound at Dak Pan that still is bleeding.

In all of these incidents, regardless where and when they happened, the authorities have always claimed they are good and right while people 'commit all sorts of sins': causing social disturbances, attacking on-duty officials, attempting to overthrow the government...”

The prelate points out that all social disorders and sufferings have caused by the sort of government which is restricted by no laws, hampered by no rules, and based directly on violence and lies, and views human rights as a gift given to the people at the mercy of the authorities only when they are in good mood.

"Stop lying to the people," the prelate suggests, praising progress in communication technology and citing Luke 8:17 "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open".

In conclusion, Bishop Michael Hoang urges the halt to attacks on Catholics arguing that both physical and verbal, are a clear violation of the rights to freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a party.