Police attack Vietnamese Catholics praying at home

Police attacked and dispersed Catholics who had gathered to pray in northern Vietnam on June 19.

Jun 30, 2016

HANOI: Police attacked and dispersed Catholics who had gathered to pray in northern Vietnam on June 19.

Some 60 police and officials assaulted and offended a group of Catholics who were attending a Sunday prayer session at a layperson’s house.

The government of Vietnam keeps tabs on a number of Christians in the communist state. Churches have to inform authorities of their activities a year in advance and evangelism is illegal.

A church source who did not want to be identified said Tran Thi Tram, the homeowner, had organized the prayer meeting to mark the anniversary of her late mother’s death.

Police broke into the house in the Muong Khuong district of Lao Cai province. They shouted at attendees and confiscated cell phones when people tried to video their acts.

The police beat Tram, her husband and daughter and a neighbouring woman for opposing them. “Police brutally assaulted and dragged them out of the house like dogs,” said the source.

The police also used loudspeakers to order the congregation to disperse. “They made a noise,” said the source. “And asked Catholics not to disturb public order.”

A Christian activist said the police had “entered the house illegally,” and “severely violated religious freedom and disrespected the people”.

The assault was the third such occurrence within a month. Police and authorities brutally broke up a Sunday Mass held by Fr Joseph Nguyen Van Thanh at Tram’s house on June 12.

Earlier, on May 28, they threatened and obstructed a local priest from celebrating Mass for local Catholics.

Local Catholics have petitioned the government to allow them to build a chapel many times but have been refused. So, they gather instead, at private homes to conduct Mass services and pray.

The fracas happened just months after 29 humanitarian and advocacy organizations called for an investigation into the beating of a Christian woman who was abducted in similar circumstances in April. -- ucanews.com

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