Monday, November 28, 2005

Report #10 on the Fall of Communism

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From Asia News

November 28, 2005
Xian: 16 nuns brutally beaten for having defended a school of the diocese

Yesterday, Catholics in Xian protested to call for justice.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of faithful in the Xian diocese, along with their friends and relatives, protested in the streets of the city yesterday to call for justice against a group of “thugs” who, on the night of November 23, brutally attacked 16 nuns of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sacred Heart Missionaries. These nuns have been admitted to hospital: one has lost her eyesight and another is also in serious condition. The nuns were attempting to prevent the demolition of a school that belongs to the diocese but that city authorities sold to a commercial company.

The nuns had been engaged for several days in a sit-in to protect the empty building. A group of young thugs entered the building the night of November 23 and repeatedly beat them. It is not known if the group had been sent by the government or by the company to which the mayor had sold the building. The government has called for a black-out on news of the violence and has not yet decided what measures it will take. Yesterday, however, several Chinese Catholic internet sites spread news of the incident.

In the past, the building had been the location of the “School of the Rosary”, an elementary school run by the nuns. At the time of Mao Zedong, all schools had been nationalized and buildings were requisitioned. The School of the Rosary also became a state school.

In the 1980s, after the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government established that all buildings requisitioned during Maoism be returned to their legitimate owners. But still today, as far as the Church is concerned, many buildings are still held by the Party.

As a justification for not returning such buildings, the government cites their “social” function, as has been the case for the School of the Rosary which has never been returned to the Xian diocese.

The school, however, has been operating for several months in another location and the original building has been empty for some time. For this reason the diocese and the nuns asked that it be returned. In the meantime however the city government sold the building, which is located in the city centre, to a company that wants to demolish it to build industrial units and other buildings.

With the city’s extensive economic development, many central areas are being requisitioned and destroyed. The legitimate owners are often compensated with paltry sums, considering the land’s actual value. Those who pose resistance are even kidnapped. Contractors often act in league with local governments who arrange to cover up their violent measures.


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