HANOI, Feb 18, 2006 (dpa)- Dissident Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do has been released from Vietnamese police custody after being detained for violating his house arrest, a Paris-based group linked to the monk said Saturday.
Vietnamese police have refused to talk about the case since reports of the arrest first surfaced Thursday night.
Do, 77, who is deputy leader of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), was held for six hours after he was arrested at Ho Chi Minh City’s main train station, trying to board a train to Ninh Binh province, according to a statement from the International Buddhist Information Bureau in Paris.
The monk was on his way to visit the patriarch of the UBCV, Thich Huyen Quang, 83, who is also under “administrative detention” by Vietnamese authorities, the group said.
Do was released and allowed to return to his monastery early Friday.
A longtime critic of the communist regime, Do spent several years in prison following his arrest in 1995 on charges that he had damaged the interests of the state.
He was released in 1998 as part of an amnesty programme but Do’s supporters say he has been under police surveillance ever since.
Last year a United Nations’ monitoring body named both monks as victims of arbitrary detention. Vietnam has insisted that the men are completely free.
The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam has been banned practically since its inception more than 30 years ago. The government allows people to worship freely but it objects to religious groups that are not sanctioned by the state.
Vietnamese authorities established an official Buddhist Church of Vietnam in 1981, but Thich Quang Do and Thich Huyen Quang refuse to join it. dpa kj cb