Vietnam: government issues ultimatum to Catholic protesters

Local government delivered an ultimatum to the Archbishop of Hanoi’s Office ordering that sit-in protesters must leave the ground of the old building of the apostolic delegation, and that the cross erected on Friday and all the statues must be removed. The dateline was set at 5pm last night local time. .

During the Friday clash with police, Hanoi Catholics took control the building for a while ­ long enough to put up a large cross in the garden. That cross “must be removed”, said the ultimatum.

On their first vigil at the site, just before Christmas, Hanoi Catholics wheeled a Pieta Virgin Mary statue from St Joseph’s Cathedral to the building where it had once been located before the communists illegally seized the building. That statue “must be removed” as well, said the ultimatum.

Despite cold rain, strong warnings and many other threatening gestures from security forces, Hanoi Catholics have been holding sit-in protests on the garden of the building since Friday. These people “must leave the ground of the building”, the ultimatum ordered.

During Saturday, The government sent some officials to the site to persuade demonstrators to leave but to no avail. Some army and security units were also deployed in the area.

In weekend Masses, the Catholic community was informed about the ultimatum, and urged to be united in prayer that God may bless, strengthen and guide them in the fight for justice. This indicates that Hanoi Catholics will defy the ultimatum and plan to continue protests.


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