in the news 15 winter 1999

Monks from the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) are facing more arrests and detention. According to Reuters, a UBCV monk, Thich Khong Tanh, 56, was detained in September. Upon his release he told the UBCV’s Thich Quang Do, the 72-year-old and a one-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee who heads the UBCV’s Institute for the Propagation of the Dharma, that police had warned him about future arrests. Do said, “(The police) disclosed there is already an order to arrest all of us.”

Tanh had been arrested and detained, and documents he was carrying about a recent Buddhist Congress held in Australia were confiscated. UBCV’s Paris-based information service, the International Buddhist Information Bureau, said that Tanh had been accused of “belonging to an ‘illegal organization,’ ‘attempting to turn Vietnam into a new Kosovo’ and “conniving with foreign powers to overthrow the regime.’”

Tanh, Do, and Thich Tue Sy, the UBCV’s secretary-general who was also detained earlier, have a long history of opposition to the Communist government and have spent many years in jail or under detention.

Not letting up their resistance, a few weeks later the UBCV applied to publish a magazine. Do told Reuters that its purpose was “to correct what he said were distortions of Buddhism in official Communist-controlled media.” Do, who has spent most of the last 20 years in detention or jail, said he doubted that they would be given permission. In Vietnam, private publishing is not allowed.

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