PARIS, 20 February 2014 (IBIB) – The International Buddhist Information Bureau (IBIB) is informed that Security Police in Hue have again harassed and detained Buddhist youth leader Lê Công Cầu for interrogations and placed him under house arrest without any due process of law. He cannot leave his home without authorization except to buy food or medicine, and risks prosecution if he breaks this order.
Lê Công Cầu, who is head of the Buddhist Youth Movement, an educational organization affiliated to the non-recognized Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), was intercepted on Tuesday by Security Police at Van Xa, 15 kilometres from Hue, as he was going to the UBCVs Secretariat at Long Quang Pagoda. Police forced him to follow them to the Truong An district Police station where he was held for questioning throughout the day. They produced no warrant nor gave any justification for his detention.
At the end of the day, Police informed him that he was under house arrest. When he asked for a written indictment, they refused. They said that his previous house arrest – begun on 1st January 2014 – was still in force, and that Police had simply allowed him a few days of respite during the Tet (Lunar New Year). From now on, he is forbidden from travelling, and may only go outside his home to buy food and basic necessities. In particular, he is forbidden to visit the UBCV Secretariat at Long Quang Pagoda and meet with members of the UBCV.
Lê Công Cầu was previously arrested on 1st January 2014 as he was boarding a plane for Saigon under suspicion of carrying “terrorist materials”. Although the charges were cleared, Police confiscated his laptop, flash drives and mobile phone and placed him under house arrest by verbal order, with no written justification. He wrote letters of protest to the Police on 20 and 25 January 2014 demanding the right to a due process of law, or to be immediately released. Police did not accept the second letter, but told its bearer “Let him go where he wants”. Lê Công Cầu therefore assumed that he was free, and on 16 February he went to Saigon to visit the UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do.
Lê Công Cầu, who is also Secretary-general of the UBCVs Executive Institute, Viện Hóa Đạo, said that Police interrogations focused on his recent meeting with UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do and the UBCVs plans for the coming year. “My detention is part of the authorities plan to incapacitate the UBCV. Their aim is to isolate me from the UBCV leadership and prevent us from organizing any activities”, he wrote.
On 4 February 2014, in an audio released at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva before Vietnam’s examination under the Universal Periodic Review, Lê Công Cầu said Vietnam had launched a crack-down on the BYM last year after the movement introduced human rights education into its curriculum: “We believe that young people should learn about human rights if they are to become good citizens of Vietnam. The right to education is enshrined in the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Vietnam is a state party. By repressing my members and prohibiting our activities, Vietnam is violating its binding commitments to its citizens and to the international community”.
In his message to the UN, Lê Công Cầu said he was launching a “cry of alarm” and risked imminent arrest. “I do not fear imprisonment. I take full responsibility for my legitimate and peaceful acts, and I am ready to face the consequences, whatever they may be. But I am appalled that Vietnam can treat its citizens so unfairly, and I refuse to remain silent in face of such injustice”. He says that at least 100 members of the BYM have been placed under house arrest in the recent crack-down.
The International Buddhist Information Bureau strongly denounces the arbitrary house arrest of Lê Công Cầu. Vietnam is a state party to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees the inviolability of the individual and stipulates that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention”.