Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vietnam: Update on the Crisis

To see an interesting short video from French 24 News on the current situation in Vietnam please click here. The person offering incense is actually Bishop Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Sang, the bishop of Thai Binh, a diocese not too far from Ha Noi.

Scores of Vietnamese Catholics have erected statues and crosses on the construction site of a public park in Hanoi, protesting that the land rightfully belongs to the church.

Images obtained by FRANCE 24 showed that the construction of the park continued Monday behind security barriers covered with barbed wire. Scores of praying Catholics were allowed to quietly protest near the site, carefully watched by security forces.

The images were discreetly taken on a mobile phone, days after the Associated Press Hanoi bureau chief claimed he was beaten by police, on Sept. 19, and his camera seized as he attempted to film the start of the construction. The ministry denied this, adding that the journalist had violated Vietnam's laws by taking photos at a prohibited area.

The government has accused the protesters of disrupting public order and says their actions are in violation of the law.

The site is the former nunciature of the Vatican in Vietnam, a mostly Buddhist country that is nonetheless home to nearly 6 million Catholics - the second largest community among Asian countries. The property, like many others, was requisitioned by the communists after the French colonials left in 1954.

For a moving slideshow of images click here.

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