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dpa : Vietnam-Dissidents – Vietnam accuses dissident Buddhist monks of plot

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Deutsch Presse-Agentur - http://www.dpa.de


Hanoi (dpa) – Vietnam issued a scathing statement Saturday accusing a group of Buddhist monks from a banned church of attacking government officials, carrying state secrets and plotting to destroy Vietnam’s official Buddhist association.

Thich Huyen Quang, 86, and Thich Quang Do, 75, leaders of the illegal Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, have been using religion to attempt to destroy national solidarity, said Vietnam’s foreign affairs spokesman, Le Dung.

“With illegal political motivation and personal ambition they have deliberately violated the law, secretly plotting to set up the so- called the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBVC) to destroy the Vietnam Buddhism Association (VBA),” Le Dung said.

The International Buddhist Information Bureau – the Paris-based information service of the banned church – said Saturday that the two elderly leaders are not a threat to Hanoi and that the allegation made by Vietnam’s spokesman that they were carrying state secrets was “totally absurd,”

“These men are simple Buddhist monks, whose sole wish is to freely and peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of religion and expression, just like all other people in the civilized world. Yet Vietnam perceives this as a threat to the state,” said Vo Van Ai, the chairman of the IBIB.

The IBIB said Wednesday that the two leaders, several other monks and lay-followers and 1,200 supporters had been involved in a 10 hour stand-off with Vietnamese security services as they tried to leave Nguyen Thieu monastery in Binh Dinh province, 650 kilometres north of Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnam said Thursday that Buddhist worshippers, not security services had prevented the monks from leaving, an assertion the IBIB denied.

The two leaders continued on their way to Ho Chi Minh City after the stand-off ended, but were detained Thursday morning by police near the coastal resort of Nha Trang.

Local police told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa Thursday that the men had been detained because they were “uncooperative and showed signs of resistance.”

Monks and lay followers traveling with Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do physically attacked local officials, Le Dung claimed in the statement Saturday.

“Some of them fought with the public servants by insulting, cursing, throwing stones, breaking tables and chairs, even beating the doctors who came to take care of their health,” Le Dung said. “The people in this car had to sign a report admitting their responsibilities. Further investigation is underway.”

Le Dung said the two men – who have spent most of the last 20 years in prison or under house arrest – were not victims of religious repression, but merely lawbreakers who could face prosecution.

“It can be said that there is no ‘suppression of religion’ but it is the settlement of activity that violates the law, including criminal activities,” said Le Dung.

“We hope that you will clearly understand the true aspects of the incident and will not be misled by the distorted information of those who have bad intentions such as the IBIB, Vo Van Ai and his accomplices,” Vietnam’s foreign affairs spokesman said Saturday.

The right to religious freedom is respected in Vietnam, the foreign affairs spokesman said.

“The consistent policy of the government of Vietnam is that we always respect the rights to freedom of religion of each citizen. That right has been clearly stated in Vietnam’s constitution and law and had been proved the reality of life in Vietnam,” Le Dung said.

The IBIB said Saturday that scores of phone lines in UBVC pagodas in central and southern Vietnam had been cut or barred and that the whereabouts of some of the monks detained with Thich Quang Do and Thich Huyen Quang was still unknown.

Thich Quang Do, reportedly suffering from high blood pressure, has returned to his pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, and Thich Huyen Quang was back in the monastery in Binh Dinh, the IBIB director said.

The UBVC was outlawed in 1981 when it refused to join the state- sanctioned Vietnam Buddhist Association.

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