.- Police in the Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh have begun using street and motorcycle gangs to threaten and attack Catholic protesters who are seeking the return of lands confiscated by government authorities in the 1950s.
Earlier this month, after receiving no response to their series of petitions for the return of their parish lands, hundreds of parishioners from the village of Ke Mui gathered before the People’s Committee of Huong Son District. Leaders of the protests were told that the local government owns the land in dispute and that the land would be returned only if the parishioners paid a “huge amount” of money.
J.B. An Dang told CNA that parishioners refused to accept the terms offered to them and continued their protests. The next day, groups of gangs were brought to the site in police trucks. The gangs attacked the protestors, beating them and chasing them away.
The protestors returned the following day for a silent sit-in protest and again street gangs were called in to end the protest.The Catholic activists called off their protests because of the violence. Even then, motorcycle gangs were sent to Ke Mui. Storming into the village in large numbers, they surrounded and verbally attacked the parishioners. One parishioner, Mrs. Phung Thi Lieu, injured her rib when she was hit by a motorcycle.