The International Buddhist Information Bureau (IBIB) has received a letter from the Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, the Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang to members of the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament. The letter, dated 19th December and sent from Nguyen Thieu Monastery in Binh Dinh Province, was channeled clandestinely from Vietnam by UBCV sources, with the request that IBIB forward it to members of Congress and MEPs.
It is the first written communication that the 86-year-old Patriarch has managed to impart overseas since he was placed under house arrest on October 9th 2003 during a government crackdown on the new UBCV leadership appointed at an Assembly in Binh Dinh on October 1st 2003. Since then, Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang has been held under total isolation. The telephone at Nguyen Thieu Monastery has been cut off since October 9th, mobile phones belonging to Thich Huyen Quang and other monks have all been confiscated. The UBCV Patriarch’s personal assistant, Thich Dong Tho, has been separated from his master and placed under house arrest in a remote area of Binh Dinh. Arrested in the crackdown on October 9th, he was sentenced to 24 months administrative detention under Decree 31/CP which authorizes detention without trial for suspected “national security” offenders.
In this letter, UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang thanked members of the U.S. House of Representatives for adopting Resolution HR 427 on 19th November 2003, and members of the European Parliament for the Resolution on Religious Freedom in Vietnam adopted on 20th November 2003.
“Both these Resolutions express sympathy with the plight of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. Especially, they denounce the repression and house arrest to which I am subjected, as well as that of Venerable Thich Quang Do, Head of the UBCV Institute for the Dissemination of the Faith, and all other UBCV leaders who have been placed under house arrest either officially or by verbal orders. But most important, they call for the re-establishment of the legitimate status of the UBCV, effectively banned by the authorities since 1981... I am deeply moved by your warm concern and fraternal empathy with the Vietnamese people and the Buddhist community. The world is vast, we live oceans apart, and you are assailed by a multitude of problems in your own countries, yet you still manage to feel compassion for the situation of repressed Buddhists in Vietnam...”.
“Not only do I warmly appreciate your concern, but I am encouraged and strengthened by your solidarity and selfless public spirit. This proves the sagacity of our Eastern saying, “all men are brothers”. I convey the heartfelt thanks of the UBCV’s Bicameral Institutes to all Members of the US House of Representatives and Members of the European Parliament, and ask you to forward our sincere thanks to your people and governments”.
Since he was placed under house arrest, Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang has made several requests for permission to travel to Ho Chi Minh City to visit the UBCV Deputy leader Thich Quang Do, who is currently in very poor health. He has received to reply from the authorities so far.
INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST INFORMATION BUREAU
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