Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, journalists and people of good will of the international community,

We would like to inform you with an update on the current persecution against the Catholic Church in Vietnam by the government.

As you might have known, the ongoing crisis the Redemptorist community and Thai Ha parishioners in Hanoi, Vietnam have been facing since they began to hold protest against the government’s illegal requisition of their properties has been escalating to a whole new level.

While the land and facility belonged to the Redemptorist monastery and Thai Ha parish have never been returned to them as promised, and 8 among Thai Ha parishioners had just been sentenced for participating in the protest, the Redemptorists and the faithful now have to come out once again to protest over new governmental construction project at their Ba Giang lakeside.

They also held vigils to pray for the leaders to scrap the decision to start a bauxite mining in central highlands as the plan is viewed by so many Vietnamese domestic and abroad, as very harmful to the environment and national security. The Catholics' latest effort is in harmony with countless number of scientists, intellectuals, former public officials as well as other religious leaders. However, it has been viewed by the government as highly disturbing.

Fr. Peter Nguyen Van Khai - the spokesman for the Redemptorist monastery and Thai Ha parish and Fr. Joseph Le Quang Uy- a pro-life activist who wrote a petition to collect support from all Vietnamese to protect the environment have been singled out by the authority as those who "critically damaging national unity and blocking the national construction and development process".

The priests have since been viciously attacked by the state run media with harsh words. Fr. Peter Nguyen has been denounced by the New-Hanoi newspaper and other state-owned media outlets for “instigating parishioners in order to cause divisions, inciting riots, falsely accusing the government, disrespecting the nation, breaking and ridiculing the law and instigating others to violate it." The newspaper has gone too far by posting with a false caption a picture which was taken as Fr. Peter Nguyen was holding a mega phone, trying to help the police keeping order in front of the courthouse when they came to provide support for the Thai Ha defendants at the trial back in December of 2008. To this false representation, hundreds of parishioners had come to defend their priest and demanded the newspaper to correct their errors. The picture was taken down but the article was not.

Fr. Joseph Le, on the other hand, has been rudely mocked by the daily as “stupid” and “ignorant”, sabotaging the national unity block, the national construction and development process; and plotting to overthrow the communist regime.

The newspapers have called on its owner- the Vietnam government- for “immediate and severe punishment” against Fr Joseph Le and Fr. Peter Nguyen “before they go too far”. The accusations leveled against the two priests, especially “the crime” of plotting to overthrow communist regime - an offense which can lead to capital punishment for the convicted, were so severe that many have believed that Vietnam government has been preparing public opinions for an arrest and persecution on the two priests.

The police and Dept of Investigation have been restless in harassing Fr. Peter Nguyen with numerous summoning orders asking him to come for interrogations. The priests have kept their silence but supports have been poured in from all over the world. Their superior Fr. Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh, the Redemptorist provincial superior of Vietnam, on April 28 has issued a statement in which he defended action of his confreres praising them as patriotic noblemen whose worries and concerns “are proper which serve as proof of their patriotism”.

As this report is being made to you, the fates of these two priests are still in limbo. Reliable sources have told VietCatholic News that the two priests are in imminent danger of being arrested and persecuted unless the public and the international community get involved. We’re therefore asking you to help us protect our dear priests, our heroes, our voice from being taken from us and punished for what we all believe in but so few like themselves dare to speak out.

Please pray with us and voice your support for the safety of our priests and of those who are bravely fighting for the common good of people in Vietnam. Their action is not just for Thai Ha parish or the Redemptorist monastery but for the country as a whole in our quest for justice and peace for each and every citizen.