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10/28/10 Vitnam (AsiaNews) – The postponement of the trial against the parishioners of Con Dau and a request for an explanation of “how it is legally possible to take possession of land, houses, a church and cemetery and hand them over to a company, Sun Investment Corporation”, which wants to build a tourist centre. These are the questions that the President of the Vietnamese Justice and Peace Commission of the, Mgr. Paul Nguyen Thai Hop addressed to the authorities of his country in view of the trial, scheduled for today, against six Catholics.

The episode for which the six parishioners are on trial began earlier this year, with the decision of local Da Nang authorities to demolish all the houses in the parish of Con Dau, created 135 years ago to give way to a tourist resort, without offering fair compensation and aid for re-housing. The area includes the parish cemetery and covers an area of 10 hectares, about a mile from the church. For 135 years it has been the only burial place for the faithful and, in the past, it was included on the list of historical sites protected by the government. Until March 10, when security agents placed a sign at the entrance of the cemetery with the inscription “No burials in this area”.

On May 4, during the funeral procession for Mary Tan, 82, police intervened to prevent the burial in the cemetery. For almost an hour there were clashes (pictured) between 500 Catholics and agents, with many wounded and 59 people arrested. The coffin was taken to the family of the woman and was later cremated, against the wishes she had expressed, to be buried next to her husband and his family members, in the parish cemetery.

On May 6, in a pastoral letter, Bishop of Da Nang, Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri, spoke of a ”manhunt” of the faithful by the police.

In July, Nam Nguyen, a Catholic parish Con Dau, he died a few hours after being released by police. In the months leading up to his arrest and death he had been detained, threatened and beaten by officers.

Nevertheless, state media have praised the officers for their forbearance and self-control, describing them as victims of an organized gang of parishioners, driven to violence by the six believers who are being tried.

And finally, October 22, just days before the trial, two lawyers, Duong Ha and Cu Huy Ha Vu who on several occasions had expressed support for the cause of the six Catholic and had volunteered for their defense, were denied permission to defend them.

Now, Mgr. Thai Hop asks “why the government is putting the peaceful parish of Con Dau in this current tragic situation, which has resulted in one death, numerous arrests, others who have lost all their property and dozens of people fleeing to other countries seeking asylum when the role of government is supposed to protect the rights of citizens to stabilize their lives and their welfare”.


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