Vietnam makes fresh bid to takeover Christian properties
Five years ago, the Marian shrine was demolished for creation of a public park. Hanoi authorities seem to be preparing to requisition another important piece of Christian history in the capital.
The Department for Urbanism in Hanoi recently ordered the Redemptorists of Thai Ha Catholic parish to hand over the land it owns near Lake Ba Giang.
“The priests, religious and faithful say the measure is illegal and constitutes a violation of the rights of the Christian community,” a statement by the superior Father Matthew Vu Khoi Phung said in his letter to the president of the local Communist People's Committee, Nguyen The Thao.
The priest explained the surprise and discontent of the faithful of Hanoi on the proposed changes to the area in question. Catholics felt that it was only a pretext to deny their rights and make way for new building projects, as has happened in the past.
Father Matthew’s letter explained that the land around lake Ba Giang belonged to, was cared for and used by the Redemptorists in Hanoi since 1928. "We have never granted, given or transferred the right to use any part of land to individuals or organizations."
The letter stated that it was an "act contrary to the Constitution and the law," an attempt by the People's Committee of Hanoi - through the Department for urbanism - to build on the land of the parish, disregarding numerous petitions to the contrary.
Five years ago, the Marian shrine was demolished for creation of a public park. Hanoi authorities seem to be preparing to requisition another important piece of Christian history in the Vietnamese capital.
What the state claims as ‘public property’ was purchased by Redemptorists in 1928. When the Communists took over in 1945, the authorities gradually whittled away parish-owned land. Thus, the area occupied by the monastery went from 61,455 sq. m to 2,700 sq. m.
The dispute reached its apex in 2008 and 2009 when thousands of Catholics demonstrated for days on end in front of the convent demanding an end to the seizures. Their efforts came to naught as more land was taken and eight Catholics were brought to court for disturbing the public order.