Vietnam: Christians protest state encroachment on church land

November 8, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Vietnam Christians ProtestVietnam, November 6, 2014: On 23 October believers in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, held a protest outside an official building demanding that local authorities stop construction work on land that legally belongs to a church.

Church members said that the authorities’ move to fill in an 18,200 square metre lake on church land is in violation of the law; they believe that this action was taken in order to reduce the influence of the church in the region.

The protestors were not met by any officials, but security officers forced them to abandon the protest after tearing their banners.

Despite filing a complaint on 16 October asking the government to cease filling in Ba Giang Lake, the church has not received an official response, and members have not had any reply from local offices that they have contacted.

The church in question has been growing in size, and its leader told Radio Free Asia that its Sunday service is currently attended by around 15,000 people. However, the premises are not big enough to meet the increasing demand – hence the need for the government to return the entirety of the land owned by the church.

The church has owned the 15-acre plot of land in Dong Da district since 1928, as confirmed by government documents. District officials claim that the land was handed over to the government in 1961, but have been unable to provide evidence of this despite repeated requests. The church has objected to the government’s “illegal construction” on its land since 1996.

In Communist Vietnam, religious activity is tightly controlled by the state through force and administrative means. Churches are required to register with authorities in order to meet legally.

– barnabas team

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