HANOI, Feb 17, 2006 (AFP) – A leading Buddhist monk was arrested as he tried to visit the head of the dissident Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, who is under house arrest, an exile group in France said Friday.
Police arrested the church’s deputy leader, 77-year-old Thich Quang Do, on Thursday evening in Ho Chi Minh City and his current whereabouts were unknown, the International Buddhist Information Bureau (IBIB) said.
Another monk and a lay Buddhist were also arrested, it said.
Do and a delegation of monks were trying to visit the church’s patriarch, Thich Huyen Quang, 87, currently under house arrest in central Vietnam’s Binh Dinh province.
Police said they had no information on the arrests but a monk at the railway station told Radio Free Asia that Do was taken away by police and that other monks were staging a protest.
“There were fights at the scene,” monk Thich Thien Minh told the radio network.
The IBIB called it “a grave violation of the right to freedom of movement and inviolability of the person, rights enshrined in Vietnam’s constitution.”
The Unified Buddhist Church has been banned since 1981 for refusing to submit to Communist party supervision.
Vietnam has come under repeated international criticism for its suppression of religious freedoms and harassment of political dissidents.