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Grave move angers parishioners

Local government 'banned Catholics from burying dead a year ago'

Grave move angers parishioners
Catholics digging up their relatives reporter, Da Nang city

March 3, 2011

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Catholics embroiled in a land dispute with local authorities in central Vietnam are now being forced to move the graves of their ancestors from a 135-year-old cemetery. “We are deeply saddened that we are being forced to do this,” said Elizabeth Pham Thi Lien, from Con Dau parish in Da Nang. She says she has to move the graves of eight of her relatives to a new site. Lien said the local government banned Catholics from burying their dead at the cemetery in March 2010. Now they have to move 1,000 graves from the 40,000-square-meter site to make way for a planned eco-resort. Anthony Pham Xuan Thai recently dug up eight relatives and took their remains to Hoa Son cemetery 10 kilometers away. He said the move comes at a time when the government is also in the process of trying to relocate them from their own land to make room for the resort. Many people are angry Thai said. “We are ready to move our relatives for the sake of the city’s development but we are being treated unfairly because the government is buying our land cheaply and selling it off for profit,” he said. The government bought his land at 380,000 dong per square meter and is selling it to a private company at over 10 million, he complained He said around 100  people have moved two kilometers away, but 200 households are refusing because government’s compensation is not enough. Bishop Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri of Da Nang said 1,538 Catholics from the parish are among 15,000 the government is trying to move by 2012. Most of them are farmers, so the Church is helping them learn vocational skills so they can find other work if they can’t keep on farming, he said. VT13485.1643
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