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Buddhist Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang is gravely ill in Binh Dinh hospital

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UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen QuangThe International Buddhist Information Bureau is informed that the Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) Thich Huyen Quang was taken into the Binh Dinh General Hospital yesterday morning, 18 November for emergency treatment. According to information obtained from the hospital by IBIB this morning, the 87 year-old Patriarch is suffering from a stomach hemorrhage and is extremely weak. Thich Huyen Quang has been put on a intravenous drip and is receiving blood transfusions.

UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang has been detained in isolation, under extremely harsh conditions at the Nguyen Thieu Monastery in Binh Dinh Province since October 9th 2003, when he was arrested in the government crack-down on the newly-elected UBCV leadership and placed under house arrest on suspicion of “possessing state secrets”. Due to these poor conditions, his health has deteriorated significantly over the past year.

The U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael W. Marine had planned to make his very first visit to Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang on this coming Sunday, 21st November. Given the poor state of Thich Huyen Quang’s health, it is not yet known whether this meeting will still take place.

In Ho Chi Minh City, UBCV Deputy leader Thich Quang Do is preparing to travel to Binh Dinh to visit the ailing Patriarch, along with a delegation of senior UBCV monks.

UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang has spent the past 23 years in internal exile in Central Vietnam because of his appeals for religious freedom, human rights and democratic reforms. In April 2003, during a trip to Hanoi for urgent medical treatment, he was received by the Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai in a historic meeting which raised hopes of a new era of religious tolerance for the outlawed UBCV. These hopes were soon dashed, however, following a meeting on October 1st 2003 in which 60 UBCV monks met at the Nguyen Thieu Monastery to elect a new leadership and re-organize the UBCV. Security Police launched a widespread crackdown, detaining 11 UBCV leaders under house arrest and placing hundreds of UBCV Pagodas under Police surveillance.

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