Nghe An Threatens Outspoken Catholic Priest, Demolishing Followers’ Houses
By Defend the Defenders
June 3, 2017
On May 30-31, authorities in Quynh Luu district, Nghe An province deployed a large number of police, militia and thugs to threaten outspoken Catholic priest Nguyen Dinh Thuc and demolish many private residences of Catholic followers in the Van Thai sub-parish, the Song Ngoc parish.
On the evening of May 30, authorities in Quynh Luu sent around 700 thugs with wooden bars and bricks and stones to the around of the Van Thai church when Father Thuc held a masses. They caused great noise and threw stones and bricks to the church and other private houses around.
Some Catholic followers were beaten by thugs while one female follower was injured from a glass broken by thugs.
When the church warned, mobile police came but did nothing to disperse the trouble-causing group. They offered to accompany Father Thuc to the Song Ngoc parish church where he resides, however, he rejected.
On the next day, thugs came to Van Thai and attacked many private houses of the local followers who were forced to leave their house to avoid being assaulted. Thugs broke in their house and destroyed their properties, including motorbikes, electronic devices, and roofs while police watched and did nothing to stop them.
A number of Catholic followers were beaten by thugs.
Earlier, on May 28, police and militia in Quynh Luu district held a drill near the Van Thai Church without informing the local residents. They exercised to take over the church, and fired many times to the church.
When Catholic followers protested the drill, they sent militia and thugs to beat many protestors.
The recent actions of authorities in Quynh Luu aim to suppress local Catholic followers in Song Ngoc parish and Father Thuc, who have sought to demand fair compensation for the environmental disaster caused by the Taiwanese Formosa steel plant located in the neighbor province of Ha Tinh, and request the Taiwanese firm to stop all activities and leave Vietnam.
Quynh Luu district’s authorities have launched a campaign to distort Father Thuc in a bid to arrest him. In early May, authorities in Nghe An launched a public campaign against Catholic priests Dang Huu Nam and Nguyen Dinh Thuc of the Phu Yen parish. Both have been outspoken about the environmental disaster caused by the Taiwanese Formosa steel plant.
In particular, authorities in Quynh Luu district have requested local mass organizations such as the women’s association, the war veterans’ association, the youth communist delegation and school students to organize meetings and street demonstrations to condemn the two priests, who advocate for lawsuits against the Taiwanese-invested Formosa in relation to the environmental catastrophe it caused.
Instead of making the Taiwanese Formosa Plastic Group to be accountable for their massive destruction to the environment, Vietnam’s government is more concerned about trying to control its people and to repress their freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.