PARIS, 9 February 2012 (VCHR) – The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights is informed that the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) has been nominated for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. The deadline for nominations expired on 1st February 2012, and the winner will be announced in mid-October. Below are extracts from some of the letters sent to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Oslo by a range of academics and legislators from the European Parliament, the US Congress and national parliaments of Italy and France.
Prominent US Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, (Democrat, California) wrote: “I have had the personal honor to meet with the Venerable Thich Quang Do at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery and I was most impressed by his selflessness and dedication to bring democracy to his fellow citizens in Vietnam. He is an inspiration to the people of Vietnam… Venerable Thich Quang Do continues to be under house arrest, deprived of the right to freedom and increasingly, the government of Vietnam is using all avenues to isolate and silence him… I am confident that no matter how much the Government of Vietnam continues to persecute the Venerable Thich Quang Do, he will continue to fight from the inside to bring democracy to Vietnam. By awarding the Venerable Thich Quang Do the Nobel Peace Prize, the international community would be making a clear statement that Vietnam’s human rights abuse is not invisible to the community’s eyes but very much apparent”.
Mr. Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, a Catalan Member of the European Parliament from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) commented: “Thich Quang Do is one of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents. His fight and struggle is a struggle for all Vietnamese people. The Nobel Prize would give hope to all the people who fight for freedom and democracy in Vietnam… The European Parliament has repeatedly called for an end to human rights abuses and a process of democratic reform in Vietnam in its resolutions. I am personally committed to continue to follow these issues closely and use all my parliamentary tools to keep the light on what is happening in Vietnam…”
Mr. Matteo Mecacci, Italian MP and President of the Commission for Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, stressed that Thich Quang Do “despite continuous harassments and surveillance by Security Police, continues his peaceful campaigns for the rights of all Vietnamese. He has opposed the death penalty, broken out of house arrest to support demonstrations of farmers protesting official corruption and State confiscation of lands, called for a movement of civil disobedience to oppose Bauxite mining in the Central Highlands that threatens to destroy the life-style and environment of thousands of Montagnards and ethnic tribes-people in this region”.
Mrs. Françoise Hostalier, Member of the French National Assembly and former Secretary of State for Education recalled that “Thich Quang Do was awarded the Rafto Memorial Prize by the Norwegian Rafto Foundation for his role as a “unifying force” and a “symbol of the growing democracy movement in Vietnam”, and the “Democracy Courage Tribute” by the World Movement for Democracy. He was not allowed to travel to receive these awards”.
UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do, 83, continues his appeals for democracy and human rights in Vietnam from house arrest at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon. In a recent letter to the Secretary-general of the Vietnamese Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong (21.10.2011) following a wave of anti-China demonstrations in Hanoi and Saigon, Thich Quang Do openly challenged the VCP: “Faced with China’s ambitions and expansionist policies, what does the Vietnamese Communist Party plan to do?” He provided his own solution to the problem – democracy in Vietnam: “The VCP and the government cannot breathe forever through China’s nostrils. The only way to avoid this is by initiating a peaceful transition to democracy, so that our country can breathe through the nostrils of the 90-million people of Vietnam.”