Vietnam: tensions grow between Hanoi Catholics and local government


Tension between Hanoi Catholics and the local government has kept escalating on Friday and Saturday when thousands of Catholics from nearby parishes came to Hanoi Redemptorist Monastery to show their support for protestors and help those who were injured by the police on Thursday night. Hundreds rallied in front of Dong Da police station with banners asking for the immediate release of all detainees and condemn all sorts of violent repression against peaceful protestors.

On Friday, Hanoi Church leaders filed a complaint protesting the conduct of police. In response, in a rare press conference on the same day, Hanoi's police chief, General Nguyen Duc Nhanh dismissed Church claims that riot police had charged the peaceful crowd and beaten protestors using electric batons.

"Like police in other countries, we never use any kind of tools to beat unarmed people," said General Nhanh.

However he refused to comment on a photo of a woman protestor who had blood on her face and shirt.

The Associated Press spoke to a parishioner shortly after the clash who had sought refuge inside the church.

"They beat me on my face and used a stun gun to shock my daughter," said Nguyen Thi Phuc, whose face and shirt was covered in blood after the assault.

One of the Redemptorists, Fr Nguyen Ngoc Nam Phong, said on Friday that police were lying about their actions.

"I was there and I saw them using stun guns to give electrical shocks to our church members," Phong said in an interview. "I could see the guns flare. They also beat people. Their denial once again shows that they never respect the truth."

"God's redemptive work is opposed to structures of injustice at every level in our world that maintains the privileges of the powerful. We must loudly condemn the injustices our people have to suffer", said Sr. Marie Nguyen, who had to travel more than 30km to Thai Ha in order to comfort wounded and injured protestors. For her, "the dispute in Thai Ha is not the problem between 15 acres of land and a half of an acre. It is the justice and injustice ­ and the way this government treats religious groups".

"The protest must continue until the justice prevails and people of faith can practice their faiths free of harassment and oppression".

Share this story