Vietnamese Catholics call for end to government crack down

A Vietnamese priest has condemned the recent government attacks on Dong Chiem parishioners in the Archdiocese of Hanoi and has called for the removal of police forces in the area and for an “end of the besiegement.”

Civil unrest in Dong Chiem has followed the government's demolition of a crucifix from church property on Jan. 6. Parishioners who responded to the destruction with peaceful protests were beaten, arrested and suppressed.

The latest incident was the severe attack on a Redemptorist Brother Anthony Nguyen Van Tang, who lost consciousness after he was bludgeoned along with two of his brothers by police on Jan. 20 for visiting Dong Chiem, where he prayed with parishioners.

J.B. An Dang told CNA that Br. Anthony Nguyen was taken to his dormitory on Jan. 31, were police instigated a thorough search and arrested two more students living in the same room.

Beginning on Jan. 20, Dong Chiem was “completely besieged” with police at checkpoints preventing anyone from coming or going, reports J.B. An Dang. Although state media reported on Jan. 25 that police had withdrawn from the area “in order to restore normalcy in life there,” a large number of plain clothes police remain, aiming to prevent outsiders from entering the area.

In a statement reacting to the beating and detainment of Br. Anthony Nguyen, Fr. John Luu Ngoc Quynh, spiritual adviser for the congregation of Vinh in Hanoi, urged “the end of the besiegement at Dong Chiem and the respect of the right to free movement and to visit the parish.”

On Monday, Fr. Pham Trung Thanh, Redemptorist superior of Vietnam, told Asia News that despite calls for an investigation of the beatings, “No one from the government has tried to get in touch with me on that issue.”

Br. Anthony Nguyen had reportedly been returned to his monastery on Monday and “is doing better,” the Redemptorist superior said. “His wounds are healing,” but “he is still suffering from dizziness, headaches, tiredness, fatigue, and loss of appetite. He cannot yet make long walks by himself. Via the media, he wants to thank everyone, and ask them to continue praying. With faith in the power of God, he is in a high spirits and optimistic, even if healing will take a long time. Those who attacked him knew what they were doing. They caused internal injuries that are worse than those that can be seen on the outside. His treatment will be complex and take time,” Fr. Pham Trung told Asia News.

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