Hundreds of people mobilized by the communist government of Huế city. Thugs attacked the monks who tried to defend the sacred symbol. In two, they were injured and another was knocked unconscious. Prominent local police officers recognized among attackers. A parish priest: "Attack masks powerful economic interests in property.

" The monastery is at the center of an old dispute with the government.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Plain clothes policemen and thugs hired by local authorities have once again attacked and beat a group of monks and faithful in the Catholic monastery of Thien An (Huế, central Vietnam). They tried to stop an attack on the cross and the statue of Christ erected on a land that for years the provincial government has been trying to illegally claim.

Around eight in the morning of 28 June, a hundred thugs broke into the monastery grounds and, shouting blasphemous phrases, knocked down the big cross. The assailants then set upon the monks who tried to raise the sacred symbol again and protect the adjoining statue of Jesus, under the eyes of the faithful who attempted to document the violent attack. Meanwhile, Huế authorities had deployed some police departments to prevent local community Catholics from accessing the monastery.

"They have thrown stones against the monks and hit three or four of them," says Fr. Peter Cao Đức Lợi, priest of the monastery, adding that undercover police were helped to break the cross by "women and thugs". "They prevented us from raising it again and pulled the monks clinging to it by their hair and clothes. Two of them were injured and another was knocked senseless. It was horrible. "

Despite the aggressors wearing civilian clothes, Fr. Loi was able to identify some of the prominent officers of the police among them. The priest declares to AsiaNews: "I saw with my own eyes some key characters, such as Võ Trọng Nhơn and Dương Văn Hiếu, of the city police; Mr. Minh, of the district police; Trần Công Quý of the provincial one. There were many plain clothes officers, I recognized them because I have met them many times. "

Ms. Lee, from Huế diocese, told AsiaNews: "More than 100 people came to the monastery to destroy the cross and the statue, it can not be a spontaneous act. This is the work of the city government. There are strong economic and property interests behind this aggression, targeted at the occupation of this land and involving police, thugs, and local authorities. They will split money among themselves. "

The Catholic monastery of Thiên An is not new to these attacks and is often subject to persecution by the state. The cross and the statue of Jesus Christ attacked and demolished 28 June were already destroyed in 2015 and 2016 and promptly replaced by monks and faithful.

Although acknowledged by Vietnamese law, Catholic worship is at the center of a painful dispute with the Communist regime, which has long sought to seize more than 110 hectares of protected forests and eradicate religious practice. In 1998, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Cong Tan signed the illegal (expropriation) order of lands adjacent to the monastery. For years the local administration has had its sights on the area and annexed structure to make it available to a travel agency. The monastery is often the subject of attacks by local authorities to frighten Catholics and persuade them to abandon the area. To these are added raids by policemen who, repeatedly, have broken into the structure and threatened to occupy it.