Hanoi, October 8 (dpa) – A stand-off between a group of monks from a banned Buddhist group and Vietnamese security services has escalated, with 1,200 supporters protesting against the detention of their leaders, a Buddhist support group claimed Wednesday afternoon.
Thich Huyen Quang, 86, and Nobel peace prize nominee Thich Quang Do, 74, tried to leave Nguyen Thieu monastery in Binh Dinh province in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but were stopped by security police, according to the Paris-based International Buddhists Information Bureau.
The van containing the two most senior members of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, three lay followers and five other UBVC monks was surrounded, stones were thrown at the windows and the tyres of the van punctured, the IBIB said.
Public security officials from the province have said that there is no unrest in the province, but the IBIB claims that by 2.00 pm Wednesday, 200 monks and 1,000 Buddhists had formed a human wall around the elderly leaders’s mini-van.
“Thich Huyen Quang is as free as any other citizen, and can travel everywhere he likes,” Tran Van Dong, from Binh Dinh province’s public security department told Deutsche Presse Agentur (dpa) Wednesday morning.
“Thich Quang Do registered to stay in Binh Dinh for a certain period,” said Dong. “Now the time is over and he should leave Binh Dinh. Therefore there is no reason to stop him leaving.”
The two leaders of the UBVC told the IBIB that they will go on hunger strike until the stand-off is resolved.
The European Union has contacted the Vietnamese government to express their concern about the IBIB. allegations.
Vietnam’s foreign affairs spokesman did not have any immediate comment on the allegations late Wednesday afternoon.
The UBVC was banned in 1981, and Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do have spent much of the last two decades under house arrest.