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Vietnam: Security Police Arrest Buddhist Monk, 8 Others

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HANOI, 25 Aug 2007 (AP) – Police have arrested a dissident Buddhist monk and eight other people, accusing them of planning illegal demonstrations against Vietnam’s communist government, state media reported Saturday (August 25th).

Police arrested monk Thich Khong Tanh in Hanoi on Thursday (August 23rd), accusing his outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam of plotting an illicit protest, the Vietnam News Agency said.

The report described the church’s chief, Thich Quang Do, as a “gang leader,” and said he had been planning anti-government protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The article said Do and other church leaders had collaborated with unspecified “reactionary forces in exile,” raising money from overseas to finance the protests.

Do sent Tanh to Hanoi with 300 million Vietnamese dong (US$18,750) to use to incite protesters, the agency reported. It did not identify the other people who were arrested.

The International Buddhist Information Bureau, a Paris-based group that supports the church, said in a statement that Tanh had planned to distribute aid to peasants and farmers whose land had been confiscated by corrupt local officials.

International human rights organizations have praised Do for his refusal to accept government control of his church.

Vietnam’s communist government tightly controls religious organizations, which must be officially sanctioned to operate legally in the country. (AP)

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