Sunday, January 11, 2009

New directive negates church land rights

A new Vietnam government directive on land and properties of religions has effectively ruled that none of the 2,250 Catholic church properties seized by the state after 1975 will be returned, and threatens severe punishment for those who demonstrate for church property restoration. The rule applies to confiscated properties of other religions as well. The directive, No. 1940/CT/TTg, was signed by PM Nguyen Van Dung and made public on Jan. 6. It states that land confiscated by the state before July 1, 1991 will be regulated according to Resolution 23/2003/QH11, published on NOv. 26, 2003. This resolution stated that all land and properties appropriated by the state before July 1, 1991 would not be returned to its owners. All confiscated religious property was seized before July 1991, mostly in 1975 and 1976 for the south and in the 1950s for the north.

The directive seems to have crushed any hope for a more farsighted government policy on the issue of religious properties. As it is, many confiscated church properties have been used for corrupt purposes by local government officials.

(Sources: Asia News/VietCatholic News Jan. 8; VietCatholic News Jan. 8 (two reports)


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