The funeral of Therese Tran Thi Ly Hoa, a Catholic lawyer in Ho Chi Minh City, was interrupted last week by local officials, amid a disagreement over land ownership, according to UCA News.
“We tried to hold our dead relative’s funeral well and did not cause any problems, but officials harassed us and showed a lack of respect for the dead,” Cao Ha Truc, a relative of Therese, told UCA News.
Therese Hoa was buried Aug. 1. She had spent much of her career combatting what she maintained was corruption by local government officials.
The funeral was held on a nearly 12-acre plot of land from which some 100 households, many of them Catholic, were evicted in January.
For the funeral, the family erected a tent to provide shelter while people prayed for the repose of Therese’s soul. Such prayers would be said for more than a week.
The family has said that police surrounded the site and removed tents and chairs.
Those who lived on the property said it was acquired by the Parish Foreign Missions Society in 1954, when the area was part of the State of Vietnam.
The government said that homes on the land were built illegally, and it intends to build schools and public facilities on the lot.
Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta, who was born in Vietnam, denounced the seizure of the land Jan. 11.
“This area, attached to the Catholic Parish of Loc Hung, has been the home and work centre of many families,” he said. “Generations of people migrated from the communist North at the partitioning of Vietnam in 1954. They are mostly low-income families, students, former prisoners of conscience and amputee-veterans of the South Vietnamese Army.”
Bishop Vincent stated that “the authorities often resort to the use of force to seize properties and land in places which have potential commercial value. This has been a pattern of behavior on the part of the communist government in Vietnam ironically since the so-called “doi moi” (reform) era, as demonstrated in many incidents throughout the country.”