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ICC NOTE: The Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres in Hanoi, Vietnam are facing a land grab from a local business owner. The nuns noticed construction equipment placed on a portion of their parishes land and immediately contacted the authorities. Unfortunately there was no action by police as they are looking at the situation with indifference. Due to the lack of effort by the police, the nuns have decided to essentially take up residence on the property in order to stop the development of their property. While the property was confiscated and sold by the Communist Party of Vietnam, the sisters never relinquished the title to the land where a former school once stood. Catholics in Vietnam have been the target of persecution since their arrival in Vietnam during the 17th century. For over 250 years between the 17th and 19th century, 130,000 Catholics were killed in Vietnam for their faith. 

6/20/2016 Hanoi, Vietnam (Asia News) – For the past three days, the Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres in Hanoi have been watching over a piece of real estate they own to prevent it from being seized by a local business woman.

Yesterday, the nuns found a large amount of building materials and work tools on a property owned by their congregation, at 5 Quang Trung St, Hanoi. They had been placed at the site overnight.

Ms Tran Huong Ly, a local entrepreneur, has set her eyes on the property, taking advantage of the indifference of the authorities.

As soon as they saw the materials, the sisters alerted the authorities, who did not heed their demands. Having no other way to protect their property, the sisters began a 24-hour sit-in at the site.

The nuns had filed their first complaint against Ms Ly on Wednesday. Municipal officials said they would deal with the matter, and stop the businesswoman’s action. However, nothing was done. The next day, some workers came with an escort of unidentified men claiming to be war and disabled veterans.

The property on Quang Trung St is one of the many properties seized by the Communist Party after 1954, when Communist authorities began expropriating Church-owned hospitals and schools.

The property owned by the sisters was used as a school, but was sold to a private investor. The nuns however have never surrendered their title. In fact, they have demanded it be returned so they could use the building for their own activities. What is more, under current legislation, properties no longer used for the “people” have to be returned to their rightful owners.

In their last letter to the authorities, the Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres wrote, “The lot at number 5 Quang Trung, Hoang Kiem District, Hanoi, belongs to the ‘disputed land category’. On many occasions, we sent requests to the relevant state organs. Thus, in theory, no one can build on that lot.”

The Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres are an international missionary congregation founded in France in 1696 by Father Louis Chauvet, pastor at Levesville-la-Chenard.

They arrived in Vietnam in 1860, during the harsh anti-Catholic persecution of Emperor Tự Đức (1847- 1883). They settled in Hanoi in 1883, at the end of a 261-year period, 1625 to 1886, that saw 130,000 Catholics killed.

Treated with great hostility by the authorities after the Communists took over in 1954, they have had to abandon all their missions in Hanoi, until 50 years later, when they were allowed back.

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