PARIS, 7 May 2008 (IBIB) – The International Buddhist Information Bureau (IBIB) has received a Message today from the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Deputy leader of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the Buddhist monks and people of Burma. Sent clandestinely from Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon, the message expresses the UBCV’s condolences and solidarity with the Burmese people in the wake of the devastating cyclone Nargis. Thich Quang Do also condemns the military junta for adding to the death toll by killings and repression. He urges the SPDC to ensure freedom of circulation for international relief agencies, and also to “immediately suspend” the Referendum on the new Constitution, and the fierce campaign to coerce the people to vote “Yes”. Finally, he launches an appeal to Vietnamese overseas to urgently send donations to the Burmese people, regretting that “the UBCV is helpless to send aid, for we ourselves suffer repression and detention”.
to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
the Buddhist Monks and People of Burma/Myanmar
I express the profound grief of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam on the devastating situation in Burma in the wake of the catastrophic Cyclone Nargis. The current death toll of 22,400 continues to rise, 41,000 people are missing, and up to a million people are homeless and displaced according to United Nations’ estimates. People are in desperate need of food and drinking water, and there has been no electricity in Rangoon since Friday.
On top of these unspeakable sufferings, the military junta is adding to the intolerable death toll. On 3rd May, 36 prisoners were reportedly shot dead by army officers after the roof of Insein prison was ripped of by the cyclone. Another 4 prisoners were subsequently said to have been tortured to death under interrogations, and 98 prisoners, including 4 political prisoners from the National League for Democracy Party were locked in a punishment cell.
At the same time, regardless of this tragic situation, and in total indifference to the mourning of the entire population, Burma’s military rulers are fiercely pursuing a campaign to coerce the people to vote “Yes” on a referendum to approve a new Constitution – a text that has never been made public, or submitted to the people’s approbation. In some places, voting will take place on 10th May. In the worst cyclone-hit areas, voting has been delayed until 24th May.
On behalf of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), I call upon the Burmese military junta, or State Peace and Development Council, to immediately suspend this Referendum. I also urge them to guarantee free movement to international relief agencies, so that vital humanitarian aid may be delivered swiftly to victims in the affected areas.
I express our sincere condolences to the families of all those who have lost their lives in this terrible tragedy, and pray for those who are missing or displaced. In Vietnam, the UBCV is helpless to send aid, for we ourselves suffer repression and detention. However, I launch an urgent appeal to all Vietnamese overseas to raise emergency funds and send donations as swiftly as possible to relieve the sufferings of the Burmese people.
Sramana THICH QUANG DO
Head of the Institute for the Dissemination of the Faith
Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam