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Security Police surround UBCV Pagodas as Buddhists prepare to demonstrate in Hue and Saigon

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PARIS, 30 June 2012 (IBIB) – Since early this morning, the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) reports that Security Police have tightly surrounded the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) where the Patriarch Thich Quang Do is under house arrest, and the Giac Hoa Pagoda, Secretariat of the outlawed UBCV and residence of the UBCV’s Deputy leader Venerable Thich Vien Dinh.

Police reinforcements appeared after the UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do urged Vietnamese all over the country to stage demonstrations on Sunday 1st July 2012 to protest recent Chinese incursions on Vietnamese sovereignty. He announced that at 8.00 on Sunday morning he would lead a delegation of UBCV monks to the Chinese Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City where he would hand a letter to Kong Xuanyou, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Hanoi, before joining demonstrations in the city. Last year, on 5 June 2011, Security Police forcibly impeded Thich Quang Do and other UBCV monks from joining similar protests initiated by students, bloggers and academics against Chinese encroachments on Vietnamese waters and lands.

“We are calling for peaceful demonstrations because it is the only way we can express our heartfelt concerns”, declared Thich Quang Do. “The press is muzzled, and all dissident voices are stifled. If the authorities take no action to protect our homeland, then the people must remind them of their duty. This is the responsibility of all Vietnamese citizens, including monks and nuns. Peaceful demonstration is a legitimate right. I urge my fellow citizens, do not be afraid!”

The UBCV’s appeal has been taken up by Buddhists at home and abroad. In Hue, a traditional centre of Buddhist dissent, Venerable Thich Thien Hanh, UBCV Secretary-general and head of the UBCV Provincial Committee in Thua Thien-Hue, has called on UBCV Buddhists to gather at 8.30am on 1st July at the Monument of Buddhist Martyrs (commemorating those killed in Buddhist protests in the 1960s) in Le Loi Street, Hue. He urged Buddhist to carry placards with slogans such as: “No to Chinese encroachment on Vietnamese waters and land”; “We protest China’s call for bids on 9 oil and gas lots inside Vietnamese territorial waters”; The Paracels and Spratly’s belong to Vietnam”; “No to China’s Sansha City on Vietnam’s Paracel and Spratly islands”. Thich Thien Hanh urged demonstrators to remain peaceful at all times. If Police try to intercept any Buddhists on their way to the demonstration, they should stage peaceful sit-downs on the spot. The demonstrations should last until 10.00 am, after which UBCV monks will return to their Pagodas and hold prayer ceremonies for peace and security in Vietnam.

At the same time, on 1st July, UBCV monks, nuns and followers in the USA will stage simultaneous demonstrations outside the Chinese Consulates in Los Angeles, California and Houston, Texas.

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