On the incident of public order disturbance, resistance against on-duty officials and illegal detention on August 30 and September 3 and 4 in Trai Gao parish, My Yen diocese, Nghi Phuong commune, Nghi Loc district in the central province of Nghe An, Vietnam News Agency reporters have interviewed Thai Van Hang, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, on the local government’s stance on the case.

Following are contents of the interview:

Reporters: Ensuring the freedom of belief and religions for citizens is a persistent policy of the Party and State. Could you please tell us the outcomes of the implementation of the Ordinance on Religion and Belief, creating favourable conditions for religious people in general and Catholics in particular, in the locality?

Thai Van Hang: The authorities of Nghe An have always paid much attention to the socio-economic development and the improvement of living conditions for locals, including Catholics. All legitimate, legal and realistic demands of Catholics have basically been met promptly in accordance with regulations.

In implementing the ordinance, the Nghe An People’s Committee has created all possible conditions for the preservation and building of many cathedrals and other establishments for religious activities.

Specifically, the province has assisted the separation and formation of 23 dioceses and 43 parishes, and many facilities for worshipping were provided with land to expand their compounds. The province has also approved and granted construction licences to more than 70 churches and other religious works. Up to 97 percent of the religious facilities have got their land-use certificates, while 25 others have had their compound expanded.

In particular, the province is currently considering the expansion of An Ton Church of Trai Gao parish in Nghi Phuong commune, Nghi Loc district.

Besides, the training of religious dignitaries and religious teaching for followers have also been enjoying adequate attention. The province has also provided its support and coordination to ensure major and important religious festivals are held in a safe and solemn manner.

Many programmes and projects have been carried out across areas of Catholicism, especially those on infrastructure building, farming structure shift, application of technology into production, and vocational training for parishioners. As a result, 25 craft villages have been formed, 33 other villages adopted new occupations, while hundreds of cooperatives and private firms are operating effectively, helping many Catholic families get out of poverty.

Thanks to the efforts of both local government and the Catholics, the ratio of rich Catholic households rose to 41 percent in 2011, while that of poor households was brought down to 16.63 percent in 2012. The number of poor communes in Catholic areas has been reduced to nine at present from 27 in 2006. The average per capita income has also been raised to 12.4 million VND per year now from 8.6 million VND in 2006.

Reporters: The recent gathering and public order disturbance in Trai Gao parish, My Yen diocese in Nghi Phuong commune, Nghi Loc district, has seriously affected the political security and social order and safety in Nghi Loc district and Nghe An as a whole. Could you elaborate on the stance of provincial leaders on this case?

Thai Van Hang: The recent incident in Trai Gao parish, My Yen diocese was an excessive act by a number of extreme dignitaries and followers under the incitement of reactionary organisations and forces inside and outside the country, which resulted in the fact that many parishioners committed law-breaking activities.

It can be affirmed that the parishioners’ activities of surrounding the local government’s offices, illegally detaining people, assaulting public officials and vandalising property violated the Criminal Code of Vietnam and must be handled in accordance with the law.

Nghe An authorities’ application of such measures as using Public Security force to guard the headquarters of the Nghi Phuong commune’s Party Committee and People’s Council is necessary and legal.

While performing their task, the force did not use weapons, which was proper and legal, in line with the laws of Vietnam as well as international practices.

Reporters: For parishioners in Trai Gao parish, My Yen diocese in Nghi Phuong commune as well as local residents to stabilise their lives and resume their normal production, maintaining the solidarity among religious and non-religious locals, what measures should the local government and religious dignitaries apply?

Thai Van Hang: In an effort to stabilise the situation and consolidate the solidarity among religious and non-religious locals as well as improve their living conditions, the Nghe An provincial People’s Committee has sent a document to the Bishop’s Office of Vinh, asking for collaboration to deal with the case.

In the coming time, the committee will also propose to religious dignitaries on organising a dialogue on matters relating to the case, drawing lessons together and bettering the coordination in implementing socio-economic development activities in the locality.

We also wish that domestic and foreign media will have an objective and comprehensive view and report the case in the most precise manner. We also ask the religious dignitaries to stop making comments, activities and documents that induce and incite people into violating the law, turning them from innocent to guilty.

Nghe An province will continue implementing socio-economic development projects in Nghi Phuong commune, Nghi Loc district, while raising locals’ awareness on the law so that they can continue their production, better their living conditions and engage more in the development of the locality.

Reporters: To prevent similar cases, what is the message Nghe An’s government extends to local Catholics in particular and those in My Yen diocese in particular?

Thai Van Hang: During the nation’s history, the Catholic community has made numerous contributions to the defence and construction of the country as well as of Nghe An. This case was only caused by the lack of law understanding and the incitement by reactionary organisations and individuals inside and outside the country through several religious dignitaries.

We request that religious dignitaries act for the interest of the people, following Pope Benedict XVI words that a good Catholic is a good citizen, as well as those included in the Joint Letter of the Episcopal Council of the Vietnam Catholic Church “Living gospel amidst the nation”.

Any citizen of any country has the duty to respect the law of that country. We are Vietnamese, that is why we must live and work in accordance with the Constitution and the law of Vietnam.-VNA