Vietnam's Redemptorist province has accused the Government of orchestrating a media assault on its Hanoi community in a dispute over land.

VietCatholic reports the province sent an open letter to all Vietnamese Catholic priests released Sunday, asking for spiritual support. The Redemptorist province in Vietnam claims there has been a campaign of state run media assaulting Redemptorists in Hanoi with false accusations, distortions and mockeries.

"In the wave of a lying media campaign manipulated exclusively by state run television, radio, and newspaper, we need to raise our voice to establish the truth. We have no media outlet other than this letter to tell you all the truth relating to Thai Ha issue," the letter says.

Fr Joseph Dinh Huu Thoai, the general secretary of Redemptorist province in Vietnam, restated the accusation that the local government illegally seized the land.

"We have all necessary documents and witnesses to prove that the property had belonged completely to Hanoi Redemptorist monastery and Thai Ha parish until it was seized unlawfully by government organisations," he said.

According to the general secretary of Vietnam Redemptorist province, the root of the problem is the government's lacks of good will to return the property to its true owner.

Earlier, Vietnamese authorities denied they had used force or stun guns to break up a demonstration by Catholics who are demanding the return of land the Communist government took more than four decades ago, the International Herald Tribune reports.

Responding to accusations from protesters, including one who was bleeding, Hanoi's police chief told reporters on Friday that officers had broken up the demonstration of about 300 people peacefully.

"Like police in other countries, we never use any kind of tools to beat unarmed people,'' Hanoi police Chief Nguyen Duc Nhanh told a news conference. "We just talked to them and the crowd dispersed."

Six people, including two priests, told The Associated Press that police had beaten and shocked church members who had gathered Thursday outside a police station to pray for the release of parishioners who were arrested earlier in the day.

Members of Thai Ha Church in Hanoi have been holding round-the-clock prayer vigils for nearly two weeks to demand the return of land next to their church that the government took in the early 1960s.

A local priest, Fr Nguyen Ngoc Nam Phong, said that police were lying about their actions.

"I was there and I saw them using stun guns to give electrical shocks to our church members," Phong said in an interview.

"I could see the guns flare. They also beat people. Their denial once again shows that they never respect the truth."

(Published: September 01, 2008, Australian CathNews, )


Vietnamese Redemptorists claim being victims of media assault (VietCatholic, 31/8/08)
Vietnam denies use of stun gun to break protest (The Guardian, 31/8/08)
Vietnamese Catholics complain of police violence (International Herald Tribune, 31/8/08)
Vietnamese police order Catholics to leave disputed site (Swissinfo, 30/8/08)
Hanoi Redemptorists are prepared to go to jail for their flock and justice (VietCatholic, 30/8/08)
Police terrorize Hanoi Catholics with a series of arrests (VietCatholic, 29/8/08)