HANOI, July 12 (AFP) – A leading Buddhist dissident in Vietnam on Tuesday urged the United Nations to visit the communist country and monitor what he called human rights abuses.
Thich Quang Do, the deputy leader of the outlawed Buddhist church in Vietnam, called on UN agencies to go to Vietnam in order to “monitor human rights abuses in situ”.
In a statement by the Paris-based International Buddhist Information Bureau, the church’s information arm, Do applauded the recent decision of a UN body to consider as arbitrary his detention and that of the church patriarch, Thich Huyen Quang.
He urged the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Religion to continue to “closely monitor the abysmal rights situation in Vietnam”.
Quang, 87, and Do, 77, leaders of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), have been detained in isolation since October 2003.
They were placed under house arrest without trial and accused of possessing state secrets and trying to reorganise the church with the help of “outside forces”.
The two religious leaders have long tussled with Vietnamese authorities over the role of their church but the government has rebutted claims of human rights abuses.
“Secret police keep watch on me day and night. My telephone is cut, my communications are monitored, and I am forbidden to travel…”, Do was quoted as saying in the statement.
He expressed shock that the Vietnamese government said both he and Quang were living “completely free from any administrative surveillance or detention.”
Last week, the UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention said the detention of the two was a breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Vietnam has ratified.
The UBCV was officially banned in 1981 because it refused to come under the Communist Party’s control.