1977 Buddhist protest documents
The text of documents released in 1977 from the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) leaders, protesting religious repression and human rights violations, can be found here.
The documents were smuggled out of the country by a high ranking UBCV monk, Thich Man Giac, who fled by fishing boat in 1977, and translated into English by the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delegation, headed by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh and Sister Chan Khong (then a layperson, known as Cao Ngoc Phuong). The link is to a 1978 journal of Religion in Communist Lands, as it was then known, later known as Religion, State, and Society, published by the Keston Center for Religion, Politics, & Society. The documents were also published in a book by James H. Forest, The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam: Fifteen Years for Reconciliation. Alkmaar, Netherlands: International Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1978.
The documents are of historical significance because this was the first major protest of any kind within Vietnam, and it also marked one of the most serious crackdowns on religion by the new government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, at a time when it was at its most repressive and closed mode. The top six leaders of the UBCV were arrested shortly after these documents were issued, in April 1977, and imprisoned until December 1978. Another prominent monk involved with these documents, Thich Thien Minh, was arrested and died in prison in 1978. By 1981, the government had moved to establish a state-sponsored Buddhist church, and required the UBCV to incorporate itself into this new organization. Some UBCV leaders, most notably Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do, strongly protested, and thus spent most of the subsequent years in prison or under house arrest.