Land Dispute Must be Resolved Legally, says Ha Noi

The city of Ha Noi is ready to consider the Thai Ha Parish’s legitimate demands on the basis of the law, but the parishioners must not break the law, said Ha Noi People’s Committee Deputy Chairman Vu Hong Khanh.

Some Thai Ha parishioners pray at the land they illegally occupy.  (Photo: SGGP)

His statement was made at a meeting on Wednesday with representatives of the Thai Ha Parish about the security situation in the area and issues related to the land use rights to a lot at 178 Nguyen Luong Bang Street, Dong Da District.

Father Vu Khoi Phung, Father Nguyen Van Khai, Father Nguyen The Hien, Father Nguyen Ngoc Nam Phong, Father Nguyen Van That and some lay Catholics attended the meeting.

Also participating in the meeting were Ha Noi Fatherland Front Committee Chairman Pham Xuan Hang and representatives of the Ha Noi Police, Inspectorate, Religion Committee, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, and Chien Thang Joint Stock Company.

In response to Father Phung’s claim that the city authorities give the land on which Chien Thang Company is now situated back to the Thai Ha Parish, Mr. Khanh said the land has been assigned to the company since 1961 according to Decision No. 76.

Pursuant to Article 1 of Resolution 23 by the National Assembly, the claim made by Father Phung is groundless, Mr. Khanh said.

However, the city is ready to consider the legitimate needs of the parish to have more facilities for worship and religious activities on the basis of the law. But first, the parochial vicar and parishioners must remove all statues, crosses and other religious pictures from the premises of the Chien Thang Company.

Mr. Khanh directed the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to urgently recover the disputed land and hand it over to Dong Da District for management. He also ordered the Inspectorate to continue investigating and dealing with law-breaking acts by individuals and organizations.

He asked Father Vu Khoi Phung to call on priests and parishioners not protest illegally or gather at the premises of the Chien Thang Company. However, Father Phung and some priests dodged this issue, saying that many parishioners do not obey the parish’s leaders.

Regarding the breaking of a wall by some protesters, Mr. Khanh said that this act broke the law and was unacceptable. There are some signs that it was organized by a group that included some priests. Those protestors who have been arrested will be dealt with according to the law, Mr. Khanh said.

He also called on the mass media agencies to operate in accordance with the Press Law when providing information to the public. He noted that some articles and interviews with incorrect contents concerning Thai Ha have recently been put on the Internet. Some priests have written articles that have harmed national solidarity.

One more detained, one wanted

The Police of Dong Da District, Ha Noi, detained Pham Chi Nang, 50, a resident of Thuong Le Hamlet, Dai Thinh Commune, Me Linh District, Ha Noi, on Wednesday. Nang has been prosecuted for “causing public disorder” at the premise of the Chien Thang Company on Aug. 15, when he and others broke a portion of the wall of the company to allow protestors to enter the company’s premise.

The police have also put Nguyen Dac Hung, 31, of Tan Hoa commune, Quoc Oai district, on a wanted list. He was also charged in the wall breaking, but later fled from his residence.

The land belongs to the Vietnamese State

The Vietnam Television has recent received a lot of feedback from many people, both at home and abroad, about the Thai Ha case. Among them is Ms. Phung Tue Chau, a Catholic Vietnamese-American, who is the head of the editorial board of the “Tieng Que Huong” Broadcasting Station in Orange County, California. 

On her trip to Viet Nam, she had a talk with Sai Gon Giai Phong regarding the case. 

Reporter: You have made some comments on a number of articles about the Thai Ha case. So as a Catholic, what is your point of view about this issue?

Mrs. Chau: Not every Catholic can agree with Father Phung’s acts at the Thai Ha Parish. Some of them asked me why Father Phung did these things. I was very sad knowing that the pictures of the Blessed Mary and the Christ were carried to the Chien Thang Company site. I have a feeling that the Christ wants me to do something good for my fellow-creatures, for my fellow-citizens and for my fatherland. 

Q: As a lawyer, can you say whether the land claim made by some Thai Ha parishioners is valid or not?

A: In 1954, Viet Nam and France signed the Geneva Treaty in which France recognized the full independence and sovereignty of Viet Nam. Since then, all things in the country, including the land to which the Thai Ha Parish claims, have belonged to the Vietnamese state. It is impossible to say the land is one of the legitimate interests of Thai Ha.  If the priest wants to expand the parish, he can make a proposal to the local authorities. I think his proposal will be considered.    

Q: Some articles say that the Thai Ha Parish’s claim has not been considered for a long time. What is your opinion about that?

A: The matter here is whether the claim is valid or not. If it is, I believe the government will consider it. As I said before, the French colonialists in 1954 gave total national sovereignty to Viet Nam, so the land obviously belongs to the Vietnamese state. 

Source: SGGP, VNA – Translated by Vinh Tho

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