CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 September 2018

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St. Paul Sisters attacked in Hanoi land dispute

HANOI (UCAN): Around a dozen Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres were attacked by gangsters in Hanoi, Vietnam, while protesting the illegal construction of a house on land adjoining their convent.
 
Witnesses said gangsters employed to guard the site “insulted and attacked the sisters with batons and one was beaten to unconsciousness.” They said many policemen were present but did nothing to stop the brutal attack.
 
The congregation had legal ownership of the 200-square-metre plot in 1949, but after 1954, when communists took control of northern Vietnam, the government rented a novitiate building on the site for an institute of microbiology. Authorities later divided the site and sold it to other people.
 
The government ask been asked to return the land many times over the years.
 
In 2016, a Hanoi resident, Tran Huong Ly, hired workers to build a house on the land after telling the sisters that local authorities had granted her a building permit and a certificate to use the land. However, Ly was ordered to stop after government authorities were petitioned to deal with the case.
 
After being the May 8 attack, Sister Cecilia Pham Duong Quynh together with other sisters, marched on the headquarters of the People’s Committee of Hoan Kiem district to petition termination of the construction. They held up banners that read: “Stop construction on the land of the St. Paul Sisters.”
 
Sister Pham said officials refused to make any decisions. She said the sisters would continue marching to government bodies to ask them to deal with the illegal construction.
 
The Vietnam-based Association to Protect Religious Freedom said it “strongly condemns violent actions against the sisters and calls on authorities to probe the attack.”
 
The association said authorities in Hanoi should fairly examine the sisters’ demand to avoid causing a bad influence on religious activities. 

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