Vietnam: nuns protest over confiscated property

 Hundreds of Sisters of the Vinh Son Charity Order in Ho Chi Minh City have been holding a daily vigil for months in front of a house, which was once their home. The property in question on Nguyen Thi Dieu Street was given to the Order in December 1959 by the French Red Cross. The nuns ran a day care centre that operated till 1975 when the communists came to power. Eventually the archdiocese of Saigon and the Order agreed to let the local government use the facility as a kindergarten. Despite protests by the Order, in 1997, the government issued a decree transferring the ownership of the house to the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City arguing that the landlord was absent. The property was then rented out and converted into a dancing club. In 2007, police raided the club and reported that the property was actually being run as a brothel. The club was shut down. In the meantime the sisters continued to petition the authorities for the return of their property. In November 2007 ownership was transferred to the Bureau of Railroad System Management which expressed the intention of tearing it down to build a hotel and night club. In spite of protests from the archdiocese and the sisters, the demolition began. On 15 December, some 70 sisters began a daily vigil prayer together with a group of students. Their action temporarily halted the demolition. From the beginning of the year hundreds started to gather every day to pray in front of the property. When the authorities promised to hand the building back in late March, the vigil stopped. It was resumed last week when the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City has just signed another decree transferring the ownership to the local authorities once more. An Dang

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