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Conflict continues over the razed king wife’s tomb

Update: July, 21/2017 - 09:00
The royal family committee’s head Tôn Thất Viễn Bào, lit incense praying after the grave was found under thick layer of bulldozing soil. — VNS Photo Điền Quang
Viet Nam News

THỪA THIÊN-HUẾ — The People’s Committee of Thừa Thiên- Huế Province decided to move the grave of the bulldozed king wife’s tomb, augmenting the conflict between local government and the royal family committee.


Nguyễn Dung, the committee’s deputy chairman, told a press briefing early this week that province authorities decided to remove the underground tomb of Tự Đức King’s wife that was razed last month.


Dung said the move was to “ensure fairness among other owners of graves”, which had been excavated and reburied at another place to give land to a parking lot project built in the buffer area amidst emperor Tự Đức, emperor Đồng Khánh and other wives of emperor Tự Đức’s mausoleum and tombs.


Meanwhile, the Nguyễn Family Committee, which is an organisation representing descendants of the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945) said they wanted the tomb to be rebuilt at the site where the grave’s remains were found.


In case local authorities remove the grave, the royal family committee will send petition to the Prime Minister and report the case to UNESCO, said Tôn Thất Giáp, a member of the royal family committee’ secretary unit. At the same time, they will sue the investor of the parking lot for the criminal violation of illegal destruction of the tomb, which the royal family committee owns.


At the press brief, Nguyễn Thiên Bình, the culture department’s deputy director, said the tomb was considered ‘haunted’ before it was ‘cautiously’ razed by a bulldozer, blaming the royal family committee for being irresponsible for the tomb.


Bình added that the tomb has no cultural and architectural value. Local People’s Committee’s Deputy Chairman Dung supported this, saying the case is not an exception, as “the king’s wife is not a historical figure”.


Comments by the culture department have puzzled locals in Huế. Earlier, officials claimed that no tomb structure had been razed but bushes.


On June 21, locals living near the tomb attempted to stop a bulldozer from razing it, but the driver ignored the protests and destroyed the ancient royal structure.


At that time, the culture department and Huế Monuments Conservation Centre, a local government’s body that manages all monuments related to the dynasty, affirmed that there was no royal tomb, despite the fact that the tomb was located in the middle of a single tomb of another king wife and a collective tomb for 15 other royal wives.


The razed tomb was located in the buffer area of two mausoleums, Tự Đức and Đồng Khánh, which is a protected area according to heritage law.


With strong pressure from the royal family committee and public, the department and the centre later admitted their mistake, but blamed the investor for the razing work.


Locals are questioning the motives of the razing after authorities remained determined to remove the grave. — VNS

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