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Government 'orders meeting closed'

Pressure brought to bear on attendees means discussion of sea disputes is off

A bishop says government authorities have placed Catholic organizers under pressure to cancel a symposium on sea disputes with China. Dominican Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop said the event had been cancelled at the request of government departmens in charge of religious affairs in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City. Bishop Hop, head of Paul Nguyen Van Binh Club, said in an interview posted on Vietcatholic News, run by Vietnamese-American Catholics in the US, on September 20 that local security officials “threatened to dismiss some people from their work” at government-run organizations. Many people were also questioned or instructed by phone not to attend the symposium, he added. Bishop Hop, who also heads the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Vietnam bishops’ Conference, said the scientific symposium aimed to present geographic, historical and legal documentations claiming Vietnamese sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands, where Vietnam has disputes with neighboring China.


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