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Buddhist dissident Thich Quang Do under grave situation in Vietnam

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The International Buddhist Information Bureau is gravely concerned about the situation of the Very Venerable Thich Quang Do, Deputy leader of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) and 9 UBCV senior monks intercepted by Security Police on Monday 22nd November on their way to visit UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang, who is currently gravely ill in Quy Nhon hospital.

On Wednesday 23rd November, Thich Quang Do was subjected to an intense 4-hour interrogation session at the Phu Nhuan Ward People’s Committee to discuss issues of “appropriating state secrets”. This was the motive of an alleged “investigation” on Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do announced by Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman after the government crack-down in October 2003, although neither of the monks were ever formally charged, nor even informed of this offence.

During the interrogation, Thich Quang Do denied that he had “appropriated” state secrets of any kind. After intensive questioning from 8.00am to 12.00am, Thich Quang Do was extremely tired, and asked to go back to the Monastery to take his heart medicine (Thich Quang Do’s heart specialist, who examined him on Tuedsay, told Thich Quang Do that he must imperatively rest and take his medicine at exact times). The People’s Committee officials ordered Thich Quang Do to come back in the afternoon and again the next day for further questioning. Thich Quang Do replied that he was innocent of the charges, and had nothing more to discuss with them. If they believed that he was guilty, he said, they should order the Police to arrest him, and he would continue the discussions in prison.

Since then, Security Police have blocked Thich Quang Do’s cell phone, as well as those of all 9 UBCV monks who traveled with Thich Quang Do. Local Buddhists report that Police have not only blocked Thich Quang Do’s cell phone, but they have also used technology to block all cell phone communications within the vicinity of Thanh Minh Zen Monastery. When one of the UBCV monks, Venerable Thich Nguyen Vuong, complained about this to the local Telephone Company, they told him the lines had been cut for ”reasons of national security”. The monks are thus completely prevented from communicating with the outside.

“These new harassments against Thich Quang Do and senior UBCV dignitaries are grave violations of all international human rights standards and norms”, said IBIB Director Vo Van Ai . “We call upon the international community to urgently intervene to ensure that Vietnam immediately ceases all harassment and restrictions on Thich Quang Do and all other UBCV dignitaries. Vietnam must restore Thich Quang Do’s freedom of religious activity and basic human rights, and enable him to travel to Quy Nhon to visit UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang without delay”.

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