The Ha Noi People’s Committee on September 21 gave a written warning to Archbishop Ngo Quang Kiet of the Hanoi Archdiocese for directly inciting and encouraging land-related law violations.
The artificial model of the Cultural Park and Public Library built at 42 Nha chung street
In dispatch 1370/UBND-TNMT, the committee says the Ha Noi Archbishop’s Office’s petition to claim the land lot at 42 Nha Chung street at Ha Noi’s Hoan Kiem district has been considered by relevant Hanoi agencies, the Ministry of Construction and the Prime Minister whose decisions were informed to the archbishop’s office in writing in accordance with the law.
The piece of land, the former site for the Culture-Sports Department, the Culture House and the Sport and Physical Training Centre of Hoan Kiem District, has been designated as a public park and a library, the construction of which is now underway, according to the dispatch.
While affirming that according to the law, the claim for the land at 42 Nha Chung is groundless, the authorised agencies said if the Episcopal Council has a legitimate need of land, the state will consider the need in line with law.
In fact, the Ha Noi People’s Committee has recommended three pieces of land to the Episcopal Council but the Hanoi Archbishop Office did not consider the suggestion, insisting on claiming back the land.
Recently, several law violations relating to the claim for land formerly used by religious organisations have occurred in Ha Noi . Between December 18, 2007 and January 8, 2008, clergies and parishioners of the Hanoi ’s archdiocese conducted illegal religious activities, pushing down a gate, beating and injuring security guards and installing statues and crosses at 42 Nha Chung Street .
On August 15, 2008, a number of parishioners of the Thai Ha Parish broke through a brick wall surrounding the Chien Thang Garment Company complex at 178 Nguyen Luong Bang Street to occupy the company’s land. They cut down trees at the site and installed statues of Virgin Mary and crosses. The Thai Ha Parish’s priest and parishioners regularly organised illegal religious activities on the occupied land.
The Ha Noi People’s Committee stressed that in his capacity as the archbishop of the Hanoi archdiocese, Ngo Quang Kiet has failed to perform his duty in accordance with the Ordinance on Religion and Belief, which is to coordinate with the local authorities in persuading parishioners to end their law violations. On the contrary, he personally incited and encouraged further violations by circulating interviews, letters and documents with distorted information to foreign media.
Following those acts, on behalf of the Hanoi Archbishop’s Office, Mr. Kiet signed an urgent petition on Sep. 19 to the State President and the Prime Minister, in which he distorted the truth, slandered the authorities, defied the law, and challenged the state.
Mr. Kiet’s systematic acts over the recent past reflect his disregard of the law and the fact that he has failed to correctly perform his duty in his capacity as Archbishop of the Hanoi archdiocese as well as the duty of a citizen to the country and the nation. He has done harm to the national great unity and gone against the motto of “doing good for both the religion and the nation” of religious people in Viet Nam. Moreover, he even made remarks showing contempt to his very own nation and country, greatly angering the people in the capital city.
In his warning to Mr. Kiet for those acts, the Chairman of the Ha Noi People’s Committee also demands that Ngo Quang Kiet, in his capacity as Archbishop of the Hanoi archdiocese, put an immediate end to illegal acts. If not, he will be treated in accordance with the law. The archbishop is also responsible for persuading priests and followers to observe the law, stop all illegal religious activities and urgently move statues and crucifixes to the place of worship.
The Hanoi People’s Committee Chairman requires the Archbishop not to organise activities to disseminate false information and incite priests and people to take part in illegal activities.
The chairman’s dispatch reiterates that while the Vietnamese State’s policy always respects and ensures the right of free beliefs and religious activities in accordance with the law, all activities breaching the law, going contrary to the country and nation’s interest must be strictly punished in order to protect the regime and the legitimate rights and interest of the state and citizens.