Nomination of Venerable Thich Quang Do for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize

Most Venerable THICH QUANG DO (secular name Dang Phuc Tue), is one of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents. Buddhist monk and Deputy leader of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), he has spent more than 26 years in detention for his peaceful advocacy of religious freedom, democracy and human rights. He is currently detained at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon. Thich Quang Do is also an eminent scholar, lecturer in oriental philosophy and Buddhist studies, and well-known writer. He has over a dozen published works including novels, poetry, translations and studies of Vietnamese Buddhism.

Born on November 27th 1928 in Thai Binh Province (former North Vietnam), a monk since the age of 14, Thich Quang Do witnessed the summary execution of his religious master by a revolutionary People’s Tribunal in 1945. Profoundly disturbed by this image, he resolved to devote his life to the pursuit of justice through the Buddhist teachings of non-violence, tolerance and compassion.

His convictions led him into prison under successive political regimes. In the 1960s, he was jailed for opposing the anti-Buddhist policies of the Ngo Dinh Diem regime in South Vietnam. But it was in 1975, after Vietnam’s unification under a Communist government, that Thich Quang Do began a cycle of quasi-systematic detention for his advocacy of religious freedom, human rights and democracy : in 1977, he was detained for 20 months in solitary confinement for denouncing abuses of human rights; in 1982, he was sent into internal exile for 10 years for protesting the government’s ban on the independent UBCV and the creation of a State-sponsored Buddhist organization; in 1995, he was sentenced to 5 years reeducation camp at an unfair trial in Saigon on charges of “abusing democratic freedoms to harm the interests of the State” for sending a critical essay to the Communist Party leadership and organizing a UBCV Relief Mission for flood victims.

Released in a government Amnesty on September 2 1998, he was maintained under house arrest - “I have left a small prison only to come into a larger one”, he said. He nevertheless continued his peaceful combat by writing appeals in a spirit of dialogue to the Vietnamese leadership for the respect of human rights, the release of prisoners of conscience, the abolition of the death penalty, national reconciliation between Vietnamese of all different opinions… He also launched concrete actions : in 2000, he lead a humanitarian mission to relieve flood victims in the Mekong Delta. These efforts brought him renewed arrests, interrogations, harassment and accusations of “violating national security”. In 2001, Thich Quang Do launched an “Appeal for Democracy in Vietnam”, a radical transition plan for democratic change, which received overwhelming support from over 300,000 Vietnamese and hundreds of international personalities. For this, he was arrested again and detained incommunicado at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery for 2 years, deprived even of medical treatment. Released in June 2003, he was re-arrested in October 2003 for organizing a peaceful meeting of UBCV Buddhists. He has never been formally charged, but the government accuses him of “possessing state secrets”. He is held under strict Police control, subjected to routine interrogations and threats. In November 2006, Thich Quang Do was awarded the Rafto Memorial Prize 2006 by the Norwegian Rafto Foundation for his dedication to human rights, and as a “unifying force” and a “symbol of the growing democracy movement in Vietnam”.

Thich Quang Do’s safety is at risk. The Nobel Peace Prize would help to ensure his security. But most of all, it would be an unprecedented encouragement to the cause of human rights and democracy in Vietnam. For these reasons, I support the nomination of Thich Quang Do for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

Campaign coordinated by Que Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam, BP 63, 94472 Boissy Saint LegerCedex (France) – Tel + – Fax: + – E-mail: - Website: