A senior official of Hanoi’s outlying district of My Duc has refuted rumors that parishioners of the Dong Chiem Parish had been suppressed for illegally constructing a cross on a mountain peak.

“The local authorities had not cracked down on parishioners of the Dong Chiem Parish,” My Duc District People’s Committee Deputy Chairman Nguyen Van Hau said during his talks with the Vietnam News Agency, adding the information was distorted.

Hau provided factual developments of the case which began with Priest Nguyen Van Huu, the Dong Chiem Parish’s religious practice board and a number of parishioners illegally erecting the cross on the top of Che Mountain in Dong Chiem hamlet, An Phu commune in My Duc district on March 3 and 4, 2009.

“The construction violates the Land Law,” the district official said, reasoning that Che Mountain does not lie in the land compound of Dong Chiem Church as it is managed by the An Phu Communal People’s Committee.

“Additionally, the act of construction of the cross without permit from authorised agencies constitutes it as a breach of the Ordinance on Belief and Religion,” Hau noted.

Since the case took place, the My Duc district authorities have promptly undertaken necessary procedures in line with laws, the local official emphasised.

He said the local authorities had tried to seek ways to solve the case through a series of talks with Priest Nguyen Van Huu and parishioners in the period between March and December 2009 but failed to receive cooperation from any of them.

On November 27, 2009, the My Duc District People’s Committee issued an announcement requesting that Huu and the Dong Chiem Parish’s religious practice board mobilise parishioners to self-dismantle the cross illegally constructed on the top of Che Mountain before December 4. However, they ignored the request intentionally, the official said.

On January 6, 2010, the Dong Chiem hamlet authorities carried out the dismantling of the illegally-installed cross although the work was hampered by several extremists and parishioners due to their poor awareness of laws.

Hau said the committee has issued warnings against five members of the Dong Chiem Parish’s religious practice board who directly engaged in buying materials in service of the illegal construction of the cross and mobilising parishioners to take part in the work.

The committee on January 9, 2010, announced its warning against Priest Huu for instructing the board to embroil parishioners in acts in violation of laws. Huu hindered and showed no willingness to cooperate with the local administration to stabilise the situation. He also drew parishioners from other parishes to Dong Chiem to conduct illegal religious activities, according to Hau.

A remote, mountainous locality of My Duc district, An Phu has a population of over 6,800, mainly the Kinh and Muong people, who rely mainly on farming for their livelihood.

Recently, the living conditions of An Phu residents have been improved remarkably thanks to the State investment, which has been pumped into the development of livestock breeding and the growing of hybrid rice varieties./.