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Vietnam: parish under siege; Hanoi archdiocese protests police violence

Catholic World News - January 21, 2010

The Hanoi archdiocese has strongly protested the continuing violent attacks against Catholics at a Dong Chiem parish, after a Redemptorist brother was severely beaten and left unconscious.

The archdiocese reports that a delegation of Church officials, visiting the Dong Chiem parish to investigate reports of police harassment, “was completely besieged as police at checkpoints prohibited any outsiders to get in.” At the checkpoint, Brother Anthony Nguyen Van Tang was brutally assaulted by police officials. He was carried away, unconscious, by his colleagues—whose clothes were soaked with the Redemptorist brother’s blood.

Attacks on parishioners at Dong Chiem have become commonplace, the Hanoi archdiocese charged, and police are blocking all entrances to the church, leaving the parish virtually under siege. The Redemptorist order in Vietnam has also lodged an official protest, demanding an end to the police action that began with the demolition of a crucifix at the parish cemetery.

Catholics in Hanoi fear that the government will use its propaganda machinery to stir up public sentiment against Catholics, leading to mob violence against prominent Church targets. Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet has reportedly taken refuge outside the city to avoid confrontations, recognizing the likelihood that pro-government crowds will demonstrate outside his residence, demanding his resignation.

Elsewhere in Vietnam, a court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced several human-rights activists to prison sentences ranging from 5 to 16 years. The sentences came after trials conducted under heavy security, rousing protests from human-rights activists.

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