Thursday, March 22, 2007

Crackdown against Buddhist youth leaders

Youth movement leaders of the unrecognized Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam have been subjected to tightened security measures, reports a March 19 press release of the International Buddhist Information Bureau. Recent actions include:

- 30 police have surrounded the home in Hue of Le Cong Can since March 17, forbidding him to leave the home even to buy groceries. They have threatened to arrest him unless he renounces his position as head of the UBCV Buddhist Youth Movement, a position to which he was appointed in late 2006 by UBCV deputy leader Thich Quang Do.

- On March 16, police detained Thich Chi Thang for interrogation, and ordered him to cease all activities connected to the UBCV Buddhist Youth Movement. Ven. Thang is in charge of youth and educational activities for Buddhist youth in Hue.

- On March 19, Thich Thien Minh was brought in for interrogation by the Bac Lieu Security Police. Police questioned him about documents they found at his pagoda. They ordered Ven. Minh to renounce his position as UBCV Youth Commissioner, cease all contacts with the UBCV and disband the Former Political and Religious Prisoner Association which the regime considers an illegal organization. Police had torn down the small pagoda where he lived behind his brother's house on March 15, and he has been denounced in the local state-controlled press. Ven. Minh had previously spent 25 years in prison for his non-violent dissent, released in 2005.

The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam was once the largest Buddhist organization in Vietnam, but after the communists took control over the South, the regime began a policy of systematic persecution against it, including the arrests of its top leaders, and the forced incorporation of the UBCV into a state-sponsored Buddhist church since 1981. Several UBCV monks have continued to struggle for their right to religious autonomy from the regime and for the cause of human rights and justice in the country, often leading to their imprisonment or house arrest.

Source: International Buddhist Information Bureau news release, March 19.


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