PARIS, 29 June 2010 (IBIB) – In a letter to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam’s leader Thich Quang Do announced that he will travel to Binh Dinh province to participate in a Memorial Ceremony for the late UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang and called on the authorities to ensure his safe passage for this important event.
The Memorial Ceremony or “Đại Tường” (1), which commemorates two years of the Patriarch’s death, will be held on 14th July 2010 at the Nguyen Thieu Pagoda, where Thich Huyen Quang was buried after his death on 5th July 2008. He died there under effective house arrest, after spending some 30 years in different forms of detention for his peaceful opposition to the communist regime. He suffered from serious heart, lung and kidney problems, but was denied the right to receive medical treatment in Saigon.
Senior UBCV dignitaries and members of 20 UBCV Representative Committees from all over southern and central Vietnam will travel to Binh Dinh to attend the ceremony, where a Stupa to the memory of Thich Huyen Quang will be unveiled.
In his letter to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, with copies to the municipal and local People’s Committees in Saigon and Phu Nhuan Ward, Thich Quang Do stressed the deep significance of this event for the Buddhist community: “According to our people’s traditions of ancestor worship, commemorating the death anniversary is especially important in the first years after a person’s death. This is even more so for Buddhists on the passing of a spiritual master of great virtue such as the late Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang. It gives us an opportunity to express our gratitude for his guidance and leadership of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. I am the late Patriarch’s successor. It is therefore my responsibility to be present alongside UBCV monks, nuns and lay-followers on this occasion”.
“My problem is, however, that, although I have never been formally sentenced of any crime, I have been prevented from travelling for many years. When I go for my monthly check-up at the hospital the Police go with me. I have lost both my freedom of movement and the right to receive Buddhist disciples. Foreign visitors who come to see me are intercepted or harassed”, he wrote, citing the case of Thor Halvorssen, President of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation who was intercepted and assaulted by Security Police after visiting him at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery on 16.3.2010.
Indeed, over the past years, each time Thich Quang Do attempted to travel to Binh Dinh, he has been intercepted and detained. In 22.11.2004, when Thich Huyen Quang was in hospital, he was arrested at Trang Bom, 30 kms from Saigon, as he tried to travel with other UBCV monks to Binh Dinh by car (2). In February 2006, he was stopped at Saigon train station by 100 Security Police and forced to return to his Monastery (3). In 2008, when Thich Huyen Quang was gravely ill, Thich Quang Do managed to travel to Binh Dinh. Security Police tried to expel him from the province, but backed down after strong protests by UBCV followers. Later, the head of the Binh Dinh Security Police, Che Truong, warned: “As long as I am in charge of security here, Quang Do will never set foot in Binh Dinh province again!”
Thich Quang Do informed the Vietnamese Prime Minister Dung that he will take the train from Saigon station at 7pm on Monday 12th July and stay at the Nguyen Thieu Monastery until 17th July, when he will return to Saigon on the 5pm train. He concluded: “I sincerely hope you will help me to show my fond remembrance for our dear late Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang by joining the prayers for him at this important Memorial Ceremony”.
(1) “Đại tường”, or Great Bliss, is a ceremony held two years after a person’s death. It marks the end of the mourning period for a high-ranking Buddhist dignitary. It is therefore one of the most important ceremonies for Buddhists.
– Security Police prevent Thich Quang Do from visiting Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang and forcibly escort him back to Ho Chi Minh City (22 Nov 2004)
– Police intercept Buddhist delegation on its way to take Thich Quang Do to visit the UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang in Quy Nhon (22 Nov 2004)
– Buddhist dissident Thich Quang Do is arrested in Ho Chi Minh City (16 Feb 2006)
– Security Police release Buddhist deputy leader Thich Quang Do after 40 Buddhist monks stage hunger strike in Ho Chi Minh City Railway Station (17 Feb 2006)