Vietnam: Catholic students mocked at school
J.B. An Dang9/18/2008

Mockering Catholic children, threatening them with bad marks and immediate expulsion, and forcing them not to go the church are what teachers have been told to do, a principal disclosed yesterday.

Thousands praying at Thai Ha daily
Principal Nguyen Tien Toan of Bich Hoa high school reportedly told protestors at Thai Ha he was forced by the People’s Committee of Thanh Oai district to travel more than 30 km every day from his school to Thai Ha to check if his students attended prayer meetings.

Not only Mr. Nguyen, many other teachers from Thach Bich, Bich Hoa and nearby areas told Catholic activists they had received the same order. They can be seen in Thai Ha everyday looking for their students, forcing them to go home, and threatening them with severe punishments including expulsion from the school.

Most teachers feel reluctant to become persecutors against their students. But, some seem to see it a perfect chance to carry out their anti-Catholicism ideology. Two year 7 Catholic students from Thach Bich, known as Huong and Quynh, told their parents they were forced by their teachers to stand in front of their classmates to be mocked. The “humiliation session” had dragged for hours until the two 11 year old children promised not to go to the church again.

Teachers in Bich Hoa high school, out of the fear of losing their promotion and pay rise, asked all Catholic students to pledge in writing not to follow their parents to Thai Ha. In addition, non-Catholic students were ordered to report the presence of their Catholic classmates at the site.

Catholic students from Hanoi universities face even more threats. “We have been repeatedly warned not to go to Thai Ha. We face expulsion and arrest for joining protestors, ” said an architect student, who has requested anonymity for his own safety. “We just come here to pray. We do nothing wrong. We have no weapons and no political ambition. Why they fear us?” he asked.

"Terrorizing children is brutal and coward" said another protestor who has two children studying at Bich Hoa high school.

Despite threats of police, thousands of Catholics keep gathering daily at Thai Ha to pray asking for justice.

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J.B. An Dang