Hanoi Redemptorists denounce an attack by police on Sunday evening claiming that more than 30 parishioners, most of them were children, suffered badly from tear gas inhalation. 20 victims were taken to the nearby Dong Da hospital for treatment. 5 of them are still in serious conditions.

Hanoi -
Victims were cared inside the monastery
Many children could not see after the attack
Revolution gang
At 8h45 pm local time Sunday, Fr. Peter Nguyen Van Khai was attacked when he was leading a procession on the ground of Hanoi Redemptorist Monastery. A uniformed police sprayed him, altar boys and people nearby with tear gas causing many to faint and vomit. It is believed that another teargas-bomb was thrown into the crowd causing many ran and cried out in panic. More people were hurt when the crowd tried to get out of the area.

Some doctors in the nearby Dong Da hospital rushed to the site to provide first aids. Dozens of parishioners who was badly injured were sent immediately to the hospital while others received medical care inside the monastery.

Protestors were very angry with the assault. At 11pm, when hundreds were still gathering at the monastery to protest against the attack, dozens of “revolution gang” were sent to the site to disperse protestors. They shouted communist slogans and challenged the protestors with anti-Catholic language. Hanoi Redemptorists worked hard to separate protestors and the gang to avoid the imminent violence.

The attacks on Thursday night and on Sunday night have erupted chain reactions in Vietnamese Catholics inside and outside Vietnam.

In Hanoi, the College of Priests issued a statement, read at all weekend Masses, asking the government “not to use any sort of violence against Catholic faithful to settle the dispute”, and the state-run media “must not distort the truth, and falsely accuse Catholic priests and faithful”.

In Saigon, Cardinal Jean Baptise Pham Minh Man, in a pastoral letter sent to all Catholic Priests, Religious and Faithful of the archdiocese of Saigon, complains that the way the state-run media inform their audience on the Thai Ha issue only “serve the privileges of the powerful, and of parties, not the common good of the nation.” Furthermore, “the land laws contain so many contradictions… and court verdicts on land deal are not always to be carried out by local authorities”. The Cardinal confirms that Vietnam Redemptorists have all necessary documents and witnesses to prove that the property had belonged to the religious order. He calls for constructive dialogue in truth and fairness to solve peacefully the dispute in justice.

In Australia, thousands of Catholics in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth attended special services to pray for Hanoi Catholics. In a letter sent to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Vietnamese Catholics in Australia ask the Prime Minister “do everything possible to ensure that the regime in Hanoi desists from all sorts of violent repression of the protestors, and seriously searches for negotiated settlements regarding the confiscated Church property that is at the root of the dispute.”

In letters sent to President George W.Bush of the United States, Vietnamese Catholics in California express that they “have been shocked by recent religious and human rights violations against the religious order as well as Catholic faithful who have assembled since January for peaceful prayer vigils at Thai Ha.”