Vietnam Catholics Fight For Return “Confiscated” School; Tensions Rising
By BosNewsLife News Center
1/12/07 Vietnam (BosNewsLife) The International Movement for Democracy and Human Rights in Vietnam , comprising dissidents in and outside the country, said the situation remained tense in Vinh Hung village of the city of Hue , where the ‘Mai Khoi’ elementary school is located near the archdiocese.
“This school has been owned and built by the archdiocese of Hue since 1937,” but after the end of the Vietnam War when the [Communist] “Viet Cong took power” in 1975 the government demanded to use the complex, the International Movement added.
“After 32 years of unwillingly lending to the local government” the local priest “wants to reclaim the ownership of the school,” the group said. “However local authorities want to confiscate it permanently and build up a community building to house their cadres without the archdioceses contractual agreement.”
Dissidents said Communist authorities also plan to tear down the parishs old school and start constructing the building on the archdioceses land near a new Communist-run school. Officials also made a “quick profit” of at least $10,000 by deliberately over estimating the costs of the controversial project, said the International Movement.
Catholic Archbishop Stephano Nguyen Nhu The and over 100 priests have openly demanded that authorities halt the project and return the Mai Khoi school to the local priest, Dominique Truong Van Quy and his parishioners, BosNewsLife learned.
The International Movement said that the Catholic leaders and “thousands of parishioners in Archdiocese of Hue have vowed to defend their legal ownership of the parishs property and will bear any challenges, pay any price… to keep it.” The group said it was concerned that “serious conflicts may happen soon between the parishioners and the greedy local authorities.”
In a letter to the US embassy in Hanoi the group asked for “immediate humanitarian protection” describing the local parishioners as the “forefront soldiers who have been determined to stand up for their constitutional rights and to fight off systematically abusive and corrupted government administrators.”
Vietnamese government officials have denied human rights abuses. The United States recently deleted Vietnam from its list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ regarding religious freedom violations, a move condemned by human rights groups.