Vietnam: government threatens extreme action against Catholic protestors

While a standoff between demonstrators and police at Hanoi Redemptorist monastery continues, state-run media have begun to carry a series of negative reports of protestors urging the government to take “extreme actions” to terminate daily protests which last for more than three months now.

Since Monday, Hanoi television has produced a TV series broadcasted in Morning News and Night News programs falsely accusing Hanoi Catholics of occupying state-owned land, gathering and praying illegally in public areas, erecting illegally crucifixes and icons of Our Lady icons on the fences standing on the land in dispute, and disturbing public order.

The New Hanoi newspaper went further charging the protestors of taking advantages of religious freedom to stir up protests against the government.

The media campaign has led to fears that a police crackdown is imminent.

In the latest episode, local government has sent an order to Fr. Vu Khoi Phung the superior of Redemptorist religious order in Hanoi, asking him to present at the People’s Committee of Dong Da District.

Hanoi Redemptorists have been charged with challenging the jurisdiction of the committee to halt demonstrations and sit-ins at the site before Monday. At the time of the deadline, when hundreds of police came to the site, the Redemptorists and their parishioners gathered more and more people at the demonstration.

Currently, hundreds of protestors are camping at the site. After each Mass in the morning and evening, Redemptorist priests, and their associates, carrying a large cross, lead a procession to the site. There they pray, chant, and sing for hours before hundreds of crosses and icons of Our Mother of Perpetual Help hanging on the fences. Some Westerners also come to the site to show their solidarity with protestors.

Plain clothes and uniformed police officers can be seen in mass resorting to previously used intimidation tactics involving photographing and videotaping the protestors.


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