Vietnamese Police Attack Christians at Prayer Gathering, Haul Them Into Buses

ICC Note: Wednesday morning an unknown number of Catholic parishioners praying outside of a Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City were attacked by police and hauled away in buses. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide the attack left at least several Christians hospitalized. Catholics in Vietnam, who number more than six million, have in recent years been asking that lands confiscated from the Church in the 1950’s be returned. Prayer vigils and land protests have been violently broken up by police. Although religious freedom is technically protected by the Vietnamese Constitution, in practice local authorities often use violent force to dissuade Christians from taking part in unsanctioned activities. 

8/1/2013 Vietnam (CSW) – On the morning of 31 July, Catholics praying for the resolution of land disputes outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City were forcibly removed and beaten by police and security agents.

An unknown number of people praying in front of the statue of Our Lady, just outside the Cathedral’s main entrance, were dragged onto buses by police. Those who resisted were brutally beaten and had their mobile phones taken away. Following the assault, several people are being treated in hospital. In photographs of one young woman beaten by police, her face is swollen and bruised and her mouth filled with dried blood.

The petitioners had reportedly come to the church from their homes in the South-eastern and South-western provinces to pray for the resolution of land disputes after their land and property was seized by the local authorities, according to reports posted on Dân Làm Báo, a Vietnamese-language blog. Despite having participated in dozens of lawsuits, the petitioners’ complaints have not been resolved.

The unlawful confiscation of land is a significant problem in Vietnam, and one that directly affects the Catholic Church. In recent years, the Church has put forward claims for land and property confiscated in the 1950s. In 2008, peaceful protests and prayer vigils held by petitioners calling for land and property to be returned to the Church were brutally suppressed by police. Then in June 2012, the authorities in Nghe An Province attacked Catholics in Quy Chau District in an attempt to confiscate land owned by the church. A large group violently attacked parishioners, leaving several with serious cuts and bruises to their face and body.

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