PARIS, 9 June 2015 (VCHR) – The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) reports that Le Cong Cau, leader of the Buddhist youth movement and UBCV Secretary-general was intercepted by Police in Hue on Monday and prevented from travelling to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Le Cong Cau was going to join UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do to meet a delegation of German diplomats, including Mr Christoph Strässer, Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Dr Hans-Dieter Stell, the German Consul-General and Ms Stefanie Seedig from the German Foreign Office who were scheduled to meet the UBCV leader on Tuesday 9th June 2015.
Mr. Strässer is visiting Vietnam from 3 – 9 June. He met with a number of dissidents and civil society activists in Hanoi, including blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka Me Nam) and a 30-minute visit to Le Quoc Quan in Hoa Lo Prison No. 1, Hanoi. He requested to meet Thich Quang Do, who is under effective house arrest at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon, to hear about the situation of the banned UBCV.
From 8:00am on Monday morning, 8th June, large numbers of Security Police surrounded the housing block where Le Cong Cau lives, preventing him from stepping outside. At night, Police put a padlock on the main entrance, allowing no-one to come in or out. The families who live in the building were extremely frightened – if a fire had broken out, they would all have been locked in the building with no means of escape.
The Police told Le Cong Cau that he was forbidden to travel to Saigon, and must not leave his home on the 8th-9th of June (the last days of Mr Strässer’s visit). Le Cong Cau asked for a written Police order, but they refused. They said there would be “serious consequences” if he travelled to Saigon to meet the German diplomats and talk about the UBCV. “You spoke to a delegation from the US Congress last month. That’s enough!” they said (see VCHR Press Release, 7 May 2015).
“By intercepting Le Cong Cau, Vietnam is giving the German diplomats eloquent proof of its ongoing violations of religious freedom and repression against the UBCV”, said Vo Van Ai, VCHR President.
Germany is an important trade partner for Vietnam, and is seeking to strengthen economic ties. However, Germany has repeatedly stressed that human rights and religious freedom remain an essential factor for improved bilateral relations.