Catholic Priests in Central Vietnam Still Harassed by Plainclothes Cops

2017-02-02
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Rev. Phan Van Loi, a Vietnamese Roman Catholic priest who lives in the central city of Hue, in a file photo.
Rev. Phan Van Loi, a Vietnamese Roman Catholic priest who lives in the central city of Hue, in a file photo.
Notimex

Plainclothes police in the central Vietnamese city of Hue blocked a group of Roman Catholic priests from attending a church service on Thursday, one of the priests said.

Rev. Phan Van Loi told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that local officers resumed monitoring his activities after the five-day Tet holiday, Vietnam’s annual New Year celebration which fell on Jan. 28-Feb. 1 this year.

“I asked them why they were blocking me from attending church services,” he said. “I asked if they were police. Of course, I knew they were police because I had previously seen them around my house.”

“We demanded that they show us their IDs, but one man said they were not policemen,” he said. “I told them that even if they wear plainclothes, they are still Thua Thien Hue province policemen.”

Loi said the police have tightened their watch over his house and monitored him closely for the last two months because he had spoken with people at the Thien An monastery in Hue, whose property has been subject to land grabs during the past few years.

Another reason was that he belongs to a group of three Catholic priests in Hue that the government deems to be dissidents, he said. The other two are Nguyen Van Ly and Nguyen Huu Giai.

Critics of the government

Loi is an outspoken critic of Vietnam’s communist government and its repression of civil society groups.

Ly, a prisoner of conscience who was arrested in 1977, 2001, and 2007 for various crimes against the state, served nearly two decades in prison. Authorities released him from jail last May ahead of a visit to the country by then President Barack Obama.

Giai has been a critic of the government’s harassment of certain religious groups.

Founded by French missionaries in June 1940, Thien An monastery is home to a community of priests, nuns, and seminarians who perform pastoral activities in three different churches.

In June 2016, police stopped Thien An priests from building a road leading to the monastery’s garden, prompting Antoine Nguyen Van Duc, the head of the monastery, to petition national and foreign officials in the country and at the American embassy in Hanoi, complaining about the illegal seizure of land and the disrespect authorities had shown to a cross.

Authorities claimed that the priests had erected the cross on government land, and said they had taken it down while the priests were praying. They also placed a pole on the monastery’s grounds to let people know that the land had been appropriated.

Local government officials planned to seize some of the monastery’s land and other land in the vicinity to build a leisure center and amusement park, the online news service AsiaNews reported at the time.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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Anonymous Reader

Dear Ghet Bac Ho, thank you for having said things clearly even for those who are not Catholic. Truth will always be truth.In one day, one month or one century this communist blood-sucker regime will collapse. There's no way out for these communist dictators and they will die from the same poison they used to kill their people with.

Feb 06, 2017 11:01 AM

Hate Communist

from ghet bac Ho

Communism is wrong in every aspect! It even rejects The Creator that grants life and intelligence to everything. There is no room for justification after this; hence; their ways are simply evil.
Humanity steadfastly holds on to faith for it miraculously gives us strength to face life obstacles and compassions for the weak and unfortunate. Thus, we are above animals and destructions. Meanwhile, by its warped beliefs, communism has placed itself in a cesspool.
That’s why they don’t need religious groups or leaders. I praise these priests, their strong faith, and values. By this small spark, the community will know.
The region will know.
The country will know.
The world will know.
People knowledge and global awareness are what terrify Communism for it rules by intimidation, ignorance, and death.
As the people know more (quality education) and have a keen global sense (comparison of economics and political platforms) their warped and ruthless systems will be exposed. Their mindless washing game will fail utterly.
The new revolution will come about by the people and for the people.
Communism dates are numbered. I can’t wait for that day. VN will be free again.
Rise up for freedom for it’s how we were born into!!!

Feb 03, 2017 12:55 PM

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