Not too long after we posted a story about a controversial property dispute between the church and the Vietnamese government, we got notification that a reporter from The Associated Press was beaten by police while trying to cover the situation in Hanoi.
Ben Stoking, the Hanoi bureau chief for AP, “was punched, choked and hit over the head with a camera by police who detained him” today while he was covering a Catholic prayer vigil and demonstration, AP reported. He was released two-and-a-half hours later and required four stitches in his head.
Catholics were protesting the Vietnamese government’s move to build a garden and library on the grounds of the former nunciature, which Catholics have been saying should be returned to the church. Redemptorist priests who run a nearby parish sent the alert to Catholic news agencies, including the Asian church’s UCA News.
Vietnam’s record on religious freedom has been inconsistent and spotty. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released a report on this late last month.