Hundreds of priests and parishioners were attacked by a large contingient of police and militiamen this morning (Friday) in the capital of Hanoi after they submitted a petition appealing for the authorities not to build a sewage treatment plant on church land.

At 8.30am, dozens of Hanoi Redemptorists led a group of hundreds of parishioners from Thai Ha to the City’s People’s Committee, to submit a petition asking for the suspension of the building work.

They managed to hand in their petition, but on the way home, were surrounded by police and militiamen who attacked them and arrested dozens of people. Among the detainees were Redemptorist Fr Joseph Nguyen Van Phuong, Pastor of Thai Ha Parish, Fr Joseph Luong Van Long of Hanoi Redemptorist Monastery, some other clergy and at least 30 parishioners.

The Vietnam Redemptorist Province has reported that Fr Nguyen is in a critical condition as a result of being beaten brutally with batons.

The incident again shows that the Vietnamese Government is continuing to ignore domestic and internationally agreed laws.

On 3 November, hundreds of thugs broke into the courtyard of the church of Thai Ha. They used loudspeakers to insult and threaten to kill priests and parishioners and sledgehammers to damage the monastery. These acts were carried out with the support of police and security agents. The state-controlled media did not report the incidents accurately.

On 21 November, a uniformed man burst into a children's Mass the church of Thai Ha in front of police agents shouting abuse.

On Sunday 21 September, 2008 the monastery's chapel was ransacked with statues destroyed, and books torn to pieces. In addition, "the gang yelled out slogans threatening to kill priests, religious, faithful and even our archbishop,” wrote Fr Matthew Vu Khoi Phung, Superior of Hanoi Redemptorist Monastery in a protest letter sent to People's Committee of Hanoi City and police agencies of Hanoi and Dong Da district, referring to then Archbishop of Hanoi Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet.

After the protest letter was sent there was a further attack on 11 November.