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Buddhist leader Thich Quang Do calls for the immediate release of human rights advocate Cu Huy Ha Vu

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PARIS, 6 April 2011 (IBIB) – Prominent dissident Thich Quang Do, Patriarch of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), sent the following statement to the International Buddhist Information Bureau today from the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon, where he is under effective house arrest. The UBCV leader and Nobel Peace prize nominee, 83, denounces the harsh prison sentence handed down on Cu Huy Ha Vu on 4.4.20011:

Protest by the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do
Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam

“On behalf of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), I strongly denounce the unlawful sentence of seven years in prison and three years house arrest on charges of “anti-Socialist propaganda” pronounced against Cu Huy Ha Vu by the People’s Court in Hanoi on 4th April 2011.

“I call upon the Communist Party and the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release Cu Huy Ha Vu, for he has committed no crime; or, at the very least, the Court should formally declare the trial of 4th April 2011 invalid, and grant him the right to a new legal process with a fair and impartial hearing. This trial clearly violates the provisions of the SVR Criminal Procedures Code.

“Cu Huy Ha Vu’s innocence is demonstrated by the wave of outrage in Vietnam and in the international media in the 48 hours since the verdict was declared. As the facts of his case prove, Cu Huy Ha Vu simply used the provisions of Vietnamese law to peacefully defend the rights of victims of land confiscation and to advocate democratic freedoms enshrined in the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam is state party since 1982. He also alerted opinion to the ecological and security threats posed by Bauxite mining in the Central Highlands tendered by the government to Chinese firms.

“In addition, Cu Huy Ha Vu is the son of Cu Huy Can, a celebrated figure of the Communist regime, who in person went to Hue on 25.8.1945 to receive the sword and seal of Emperor Bao Dai as he handed over power to the Viet Minh government lead by Ho Chi Minh. How can such a born and bred child of the revolution now stand accused of propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam?

“Declaring that the trial is unlawful is not calumny on my part, but a mere statement of fact. Article 214 of the SRV Criminal Procedures Code states that documents and reports contained in case files must be presented and discussed by all parties at court sessions in order to determine the defendants’ innocence or guilt. Not only did the judge overule this provision, but also expelled lawyer Tran Vu Hai when he called on the court to present ten documents cited by the Procuracy General in their accusations against Cu Huy Ha Vu, prompting four other defense lawyers to leave the court in protest.

“The unlawful trial of Cu Huy Ha Vu shows the arbitrary nature of Vietnamese law, which serves to defend not the victims, but the regime. Unwittingly, with this trial, Vietnam has confirmed the veracity of international accusations that “Vietnam is the second largest prison in the world for Netizens advocating peaceful democratic reforms”.

“In order to solve the problem of authoritarianism at the very roots, the government should take lessons from the revolutions in the Middle East, and lead Vietnam towards a democratic system founded on the rule of law. Dictators such as Ben Ali, Moubarak of Gaddafi who sought to impose “eternal rule” were brought down by the people’s will, with the endorsement of the United Nations and the democratic community. The Vietnamese Communist Party should follow the example of Tunisia and Egypt. By so doing, it can avoid future troubles for the Party and at the same time restore the right to life and dignity of 86 million people in Vietnam.

“I call upon the Communist Party and the SRV government to take this vital step, and spare bloodshed for our people. The Vietnamese have suffered so much over the past 66 years. They should be spared the sufferings of popular uprising. The only way to avoid this is for the Communist Party and the government to embrace a peaceful process of democratisation with the full and unfettered participation of all sectors of Vietnamese society and all religious and political families”.

Sramana THICH QUANG DO
Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam
Thanh Minh Zen Monastery, 6th April 2011

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