~ Le ViÍt Nam, aujourd'hui. ~
The Vietnam News

[Year 1997]
[Year 1998]
[Year 1999]
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Vietnam denies four churches pulled down in south

HANOI - Communist Vietnam on Thursday denied a report that armed officials in a southern province had destroyed four churches last month and threatened to pull down any remaining places of Christian worship.
The U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a charity group, said in a statement obtained by Reuters that the four churches in Binh Phuoc province were pulled down in July.
``The authorities have promised to destroy all places of worship,'' it said. Separate religious sources in Vietnam confirmed that three churches had been pulled down last month in the province, which borders Cambodia.

Le Sy Vuong Ha, deputy director of the Foreign Ministry Press Department, vehemently rejected the CSW report.
``This information released by Christian Solidarity Worldwide... is completely untrue and ill-intended,'' Ha told a news briefing.
Vietnam's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and the climate for worship has improved in recent years. Last weekend, more than 100,000 Vietnamese Catholics at the central Vietnam town of La Vang marked the end of year-long events commemorating the 200th anniversary of an apparition of the Virgin Mary. But the state still tightly controls religious hierarchies. Some Western governments have also privately expressed concern at what they say appears to be Hanoi's attempt to clamp down on Protestantism, especially in Vietnam's remote north. Ha said all legal religious sites were protected by law.

However, he said some people in Binh Phuoc had built homes without permission, and local officials had forced the residents to clear the land when they refused to pull down the dwellings voluntarily. The CSW said one of the destroyed churches, which was used by an ethnic group in the region, had been built without official permission.
It did not say if the other three had been built without permission -- which is required to erect any building in Vietnam -- but added that local authorities had knocked back requests to repair places of worship.
``Numerous requests to repair or rebuild churches, which by now are old and crumbling, have been ignored or denied,'' the CSW statement said.

Reuters - August 19, 1999.