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In a rare TV interview, detained UBCV Deputy leader Thich Quang Do calls for democracy in Vietnam

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Ven. Thich Quang Do - Source Al Jazeera
Ven. Thich Quang Do – Source Al Jazeera

PARIS, 24 December 2007 (IBIB) – Speaking from house arrest at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon, prominent dissident and Deputy leader of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) Most Venerable Thich Quang Do gave an interview to Al Jazeera on the situation in Vietnam. This is the first time Thich Quang Do, 80, has been filmed for TV in over 25 years spent under detention in Vietnam.

Al Jazeera broadcast the interview along with video tapes smuggled from Vietnam to the International Buddhist Information Bureau in Paris, in which Thich Quang Do launches an appeal for democracy in Vietnam. In an article featured on their website, Al Jazeera said Thich Quang Do’s statements revealed “a life of political repression and misery not found in the glossy tourist brochures luring visitors to Vietnam”. The article cited the following excerpts from Thich Quang Do’s remarks:

“In Vietnam today we are not free. We are prisoners in our own country… Prisoners of a regime which decides who has the right to speak, and who must keep silent…

“I have been continuously repressed right from 1975 by the communist regime. For me, I’m not afraid of anything, of anything, because I am struggling for the right cause. For the truth…

“Today we have no opposition parties, no free press, no free trade unions, no civil society. All independent religions are banned… All citizens who call for political reform, democracy or human rights risk immediate arrest. Only economically speaking [are things] any better. But politically speaking, nothing changes. If you go to the country from here 20km from Saigon, you will see. People more or less as peasants [are] very, very miserable…

“We must have pluralism, the right to hold free elections, and to choose our own political system…To enjoy democratic freedoms. In brief, the right to shape our own future, to shape the destiny of our nation. For the last 32 years we always speak out to the outside world. And we hope like you … that you foreigners listen to our cry.”



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