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Vietnam parishioners attacked by 'red flag' mob

Catholics in Nghe An province set upon by communist supporters as they tried to dig ditch on disputed land

Published: December 19, 2017 08:21 AM GMT

Updated: December 19, 2017 08:26 AM GMT

Vietnam parishioners attacked by 'red flag' mob

Catholic parishioners in north-central Vietnam’s Nghe An province say they were attacked by communist supporters while they tried to dig a ditch to prevent their fields from being flooded (Photo by Cat Barton/AFP)

State-linked thugs have attacked a group of Vietnamese Catholics digging a ditch on land claimed by both the church and local authorities, sources say.

The attack on Dec. 17, in north-central Vietnam’s Nghe An province, was in full view of police who refused to intervene, Ke Gai parish priest Nguyen Duc Nhan told Radio Free Asia.

Church members were trying to dig a ditch on farmland subject to floods, the priest said Dec.18.

"At around 6:20 a.m., people began going to their field to make a ditch," he said.

"But the authorities then brought a crowd to the field because they thought that church members were building something.

"Men wearing red flags over their shirts then arrived and began beating our parishioners in front of the police and the authorities," Nhan said.

He said the local commune chairman and police chief were present at the scene.

"They were directly involved in the attack, and ordered the red flags group to beat the women [of the parish]. One of our parishioners was then knocked unconscious on the road," the priest said.

Nhan said he later called the Nghe An provincial vice president Le Xuan Dai to demand that disciplinary action be taken against the local officials for their role in the attack.

He said his parishioners had not begun to build on the disputed land, but only wanted to dig a ditch to prevent water from overflowing into their field.
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Government-supporting "Red Flags" groups have mounted a series of attacks on Catholic priests and parishioners in Vietnam.

In October, two priests from Vinh Diocese in central Vietnam were surrounded and threatened by a mob of 300 people waving red flags.

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