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Nuns in Hanoi fight land grab

HANOI (UCAN): The Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres in Hanoi, Vietnam, together with members of the laity have asked authorities to stop the illegal construction of a house on Church land.
 
On the night of May 21 workers resumed construction on the controversial 200-square-metre plot next to the sisters’ convent in Hoan Kiem District of Hanoi.
 
The sisters warned officials to take action to avoid a repeat of clashes that took place in 2016 and 2018 when a local woman hired men they described as “gangsters” to guard building work.
 
However, construction was stopped on both occasions by protests.
 
The Sisters of St. Paul maintain that they have legally owned the disputed land since 1949 and intend to prevent construction “at any price.”
 
They accused local authorities of granting a woman named Tran Huong Ly, an unlawful certificate to use the land, as well as a building permit, in 2015.
 
On May 22, 123 sisters and local Catholics petitioned the People’s Committee of Hoan Kiem district to stop building work from proceeding.
 
They also asked the government to deal with the land dispute.
 
In the 1950s, when communists controlled northern Vietnam, the government rented a novitiate building on the site for an institute of microbiology and paid rent until the 1980s.
 
The Sisters of St. Paul claim that authorities later secretly seized then divided and sold the site.
 
The communist government pushed many Catholic organisations out from their properties in the north after French colonial troops were defeated in 1954 and did likewise in the south after the Vietnam War ended in 1975.

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