Vietnamese government continues to persecute Catholics

13 October 2008

The Vietnamese authorities and state sponsored groups continue to persecute Catholics following September's violent crackdown on peaceful mass protests in Ha Noi.

Catholics who took part in the protests, to show support for the church's claims in a land dispute, have been increasingly physically and verbally attacked and intimidated, according to the Amnesty International briefing, After the crackdown: attacks and intimidation.

The authorities have also launched a public campaign through the media – which is under strict state control – to discredit the Archbishop of Ha Noi, other church leaders and protesters.

As the media campaign intensifies, counter-protesters and state sponsored groups are gathering outside the Archdiocese and the Thai Ha parish in Ha Noi, harassing and intimidating church leaders and parishioners. At least one Catholic church outside of Ha Noi has been attacked by stone-throwing gangs.

A young Catholic woman told Amnesty International that "they shout bad words about our mothers and fathers, and say things like 'kill the archbishop' and 'kill the priests'. Last Sunday evening when I came from church, there were maybe 400-500 people there, many in blue shirts, shouting slogans and holding banners."

The authorities are also using criminal law to stifle free expression of opinion. Four protesters have been detained and charged, and numerous parishioners have been called in for questioning at police stations in recent days. Senior church officials are also believed to be at risk of arrest.

Catholics started protesting in December 2007 over a long-running dispute about ownership of two pieces of land in Ha Noi. The land belonged to the Catholic Church until the 1950s when it was confiscated by the state. Negotiations between the church and the government stalled in February 2008.

Amnesty International is calling on the Vietnamese government to uphold the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and freedom of religion without discrimination.

The organization is also calling for the immediate and unconditional release of those imprisoned for peacefully expressing their views.

Socialist Republic of Viet Nam: After the crackdown: attacks and intimidation

Index Number: ASA 41/004/2008
Date Published: 1 October 2008
Categories: Viet Nam

This briefing paper documents intimidation and harassment against Catholics in Hanoi. After a violent crackdown in September 2008 on peaceful mass protests in Ha Noi, the Vietnamese authorities continue to threaten and otherwise intimidate Catholics who have supported for the church’s claims in a land dispute. Amnesty International calls on the Vietnamese government to uphold the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and freedom of religion.

How you can help