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Buddhist dissident Thich Quang Do is arrested in Ho Chi Minh City

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The International Buddhist Information Bureau has just received urgent information from the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) that the UBCV’s Deputy leader Venerable Thich Quang Do was arrested by Security Police at the Ho Chi Minh City Station at 6.45pm (Vietnam time) today, 16th February 2006. His current whereabouts are unknown.

The UBCV told IBIB by telephone that Venerable Thich Quang Do and a delegation UBCV monks went to the station to take the 7.00 pm train to Binh Dinh province to pay a New Year’s visit to the UBCV’s Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang, 87, who is currently under house arrest at the Nguyen Thieu Monastery in Binh Dinh. When they reached the station, one hundred Security Police were waiting for them. They brutally pushed and assaulted the monks without any explanation, dragged Venerable Thich Quang Do, 77, into a Police car and drove away. They refused to say where they were taking the UBCV Deputy leader. The monks immediately staged a sit-down protest. They informed IBIB that 40 UBCV monks, nuns and Buddhists are currently holding a sit-down protest inside the Ho Chi Minh City Station.

“This is a grave violation of the right to freedom of movement and inviolability of the person, rights enshrined in Vietnam’s Constitution (Articles 68 and 71) and in the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam is a State party”, said Vo Van Ai, IBIB Director and UBCV International spokesman. “Vietnam claims that Thich Quang Do is “totally free” – yet in reality he is a prisoner within his own Monastery. Once again, Hanoi’s leaders have proved that they truly merit the US State Department’s designation of “Country of Particular Concern” for flagrant violations of religious freedom and human rights”.

Venerable Thich Quang Do, who is a 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, has been held under effective house arrest since October 2003, when the UBCV held a peaceful Asssembly in Binh Dinh . The Assembly followed a meeting between UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang and Premier Phan Van Khai in Hanoi, at which Premier Khai promised increased religious tolerance and dialogue for the otlawed UBCV. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do to be victims of arbitrary detention in May 2005, but Vietnam continues to argue that both men are “totally free”. They have both spent over 25 years in detention for their nonviolent advocacy of religious freedom, human rights and democracy.

The delegation of UBCV monks travelling with Thich Quang Do included several members of the UBCV’s new leadership, i.e. Venerable Thich Duc Chon, member of the Council of Sages of the UBCV’s Institute of the Sangha and Commissioner for Laity Buddhistst, Venerable Thich Vien Dinh, Vice-Chairman and Secretary General of the UBCV’s Institute for the Dissemination of the Faith (Vien Hoa Dao), Venerable Thich Khong Tanh, UBCV Commissioner for Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Venerable Thich Thien Minh, UBCV Commissioner for Youth (released last year in a government amnesty after 26 years in reeducation camp), Venerable Thich Chon Tam, UBCV Commissioner for Education, and two young assistants, Thich Vien Hy and Thich Dong Minh.

This post is also available in: French Vietnamese

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