Vietnamese nuns seek PM's help in land dispute

St. Paul de Chartres sisters attacked by gangsters in Hanoi accuse authorities of abusing power
Vietnamese nuns seek PM's help in land dispute

St. Paul de Chartres sisters raise banners reading "Stop construction on our land" in front of the citizens-receiving center in Hanoi on May 10. (Photo courtesy of Truyen Thong Thai Ha) reporter, Hanoi
May 11, 2018
St. Paul de Chartres nuns in Vietnam have accused Hanoi authorities of granting a woman illegal ownership papers over their former property after their claim was denied.

"The People's Committee of Hoan Kiem has abused power to grant Tran Huong Ly an illegal certificate to use the land and building permit on our land," the sisters said in a complaint.

The nuns, whose congregation has been working in the capital for 135 years, stated that the 200-square-meter land plot is part of their present convent in downtown Hanoi. The were given legal ownership papers for the property in 1949.

They said they have been petitioning city authorities to return the land for decades but "we have not received any proper and fair answer."

They accused district authorities of "seriously violating land regulations."

They said the district gave Huong Ly a building permit and a certificate to use the land in 2015. She resumed construction of a nine-story house on the land on May 8 after the nuns' strong protest made local authorities order her to stop building in 2016.

In a complaint signed by 42 nuns and lay Catholics, the nuns condemned the woman for hiring gangsters to brutally attack them while they were preventing construction on the land on May 8.

They said police did nothing to stop the attack despite their appeals.

The nuns claim Huong Ly can control the local government because some officials have taken bribes and disrespected the law.

On May 10, many sisters and lay Catholics filed a complaint to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc but citizens-receiving center officials refused to receive it and asked them to file it to the people's committee of Hanoi city.

The nuns made the complaint after the people's committee of Hoan Kiem district on the same day denied their petition against the construction.

Pham Tuan Long, vice-president of Hoan Kiem district, said in January 2017 that the people's committee of Hanoi city decided to reject the nuns' petition to ask the government to return the land plot and withdraw legal papers given to Huong Ly.

Long said six months later that the Ministry of Construction had acknowledged the city's decision.

He stated that the district granted a building permit to Huong Ly by law, adding that the nuns' petition is groundless.

Long asked the landowner and the nuns to abide by the government's decision and threatened that anyone who caused disorder would be punished by law.

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