Viet Nam News
THỪA THIÊN-HUẾ — Local authorities in the central province of Thừa Thiên-Huế have asked the Nguyễn Family Committee to voluntarily remove the grave of a king’s wife to provide land for the ongoing construction of a parking lot.
The grave was a temporary rebuilt version of a royal tomb that was bulldozed intentionally by the parking lot project’s contractor. The tomb was built over a hundred years ago for one of the wives of Tự Đức, the fourth king of the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945).
The tomb was located inside the protected area around Tự Đức Mausoleum.
Nguyễn Văn Hòa, chairman of Thủy Xuân Ward, where the temporary tomb is located, said that local authorities wanted the Nguyễn Family Committee to remove the grave ‘voluntarily’ to make way so the parking lot project could resume.
Hòa did not clarify if ‘local authorities’ meant the provincial People’s Committee, the city committee of Huế, or the ward itself.
Tôn Thất Giáp, head representative of the Nguyễn Family Committee, which stands for royal descendants of the dynasty kings in Việt Nam and around the world, said the committee did not agree with the recommendation made by the provincial committee.
“In the latest meeting with the provincial committee’s chairman Phan Ngọc Thọ, we denied the removal,” said Giáp.
He added that the case has become the top concern of the king’s descendants around the world over the safety of their ancestral resting places thus the committee representative could not make any sole decision.
Graves and tombs of ancestors are always significant to Vietnamese as they believe they are part of the afterlife of their ancestors and have an impact on their life.
Researchers in the city expected the grave would be rebuilt as the bulldozing of the royal tomb violates the laws of heritage and laws over the protection of graves and tombs.
Researcher Nguyễn Xuân Hoa said the grave removal would be a mistake.
Residents of the city are questioning the role of the Huế Monument Conservation Centre, which is a functional body of the provincial committee in managing relics built by the dynasty in Huế, in this case as it has not made a clear statement yet upon the conservationist side.
Over 15 months since the bulldozing occurred, local authorities in the province have yet to announce a final conclusion on the case, including the rebuilding of the old royal tomb and legal penalty for the contractor.
Within a week of the bulldozing, members of the royal family identified the tombstone, the tomb location and built the temporary grave at the site. — VNS