CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 14 September 2019

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Fresh property grab by authorities in Vietnam

HO CHI MINH CITY (UCAN): More than 112 homes, demolished by state officials from Tan Binh district in Lộc Hưng, near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on January 4 and 8. Residents said they were given little or no warning. Overseas media reports stated that some 300 police took part in the operation that included the use of bulldozers.
 
The state-run Tuoitre newspaper alleged that the homes “illegal.” It quoted district officials as accusing local people of illegally trading the land, which the government said it planned to use for building schools and public facilities.
 
Among the destroyed buildings was a Redemptorist-owned home for 18 war veterans who lost limbs in the Vietnam War. They have no relatives and sell lottery tickets for a living.
 
The veterans said police forced them to evacuate immediately and take their belongings with them before demolition began early on January 8. They said no notice was given and some didn’t even have time to take their prosthetic limbs and crutches with them.
 
One said police promised to give each of them two million dong ($675) if they moved to police stations but the former soldiers refused because they do not trust the police. He said his fellow veterans went to the Redemptorist monastery for support.
 
Redemptorist Father Anthony Le Ngoc Thanh, who leads a South Vietnamese injured veterans programme, called on people to offer temporary shelter to the homeless veterans.
 
Father Le said statues of St. Joseph, Mother Mary and a cross erected at the veteran’s house were taken away by police.
 
“We are deprived of our kind heart and actions for our brothers and sisters in need by the government’s eviction,” he said.
 
He said benefactors at home and abroad covered the cost of the now-demolished house, built on a 220-square-metre plot bought from a local family who had lived there for long time. 
 
Land owned by the Society for Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP) since 1954 was also seized, AsiaNews reported.  
 
Cao Ha Truc said the government destroyed his livelihood bwhen his 11 rental rooms were knocked down. He was detained, questioned and allegedly tortured by police for protesting the eviction. His family had lived on and cultivated the land since 1954 after they moved from the north to escape communist persecution.
 
Some advocates described the eviction a cruel and heartless, leaving hundreds homeless before the Lunar New Year festival.
 
Authorities have said they would offer financial support, but not compensate for any damages and losses.
 
Father Le said locals aren’t against development projects, but oppose how the authorities go about getting things done.

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