Vietnam Committee condemns crackdown on Tibetan Buddhist monks


VIETNAM COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Vietnam Committee condemns crackdown on Tibetan Buddhist monks

(Paris, 15.03.2008) Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights strongly condemns the Chinese government’s recent brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrations of Buddhist monks, nuns and lay-followers in Tibet, and calls for an urgent UN inquiry into the violence. During a week of massive demonstrations which began in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and have now spread all over the country, dozens of monks have been arrested, monasteries sealed off, and demonstrators brutally beaten. According to the Dharamshala-based Tibetan Government in Exile, a Martial Law situation is now effectively in force in Tibet. They report that Chinese military forces rolled out tanks and armoured vehicles in Lhasa and used tear gas and firearms to crush the demonstrations, killing around 100 Tibetans. These are the largest public protests in Tibet since 1989.
Recalling that these demonstrations began on 10 March, with hundreds of monks demonstrating at the Drepung Monastery in Lhasa against religious restrictions such as the State-imposed requirement of “patriotic education”, which often requires monks to denounce the Dalai Lama, Mr. Vo Van Ai, President of Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights drew a parallel with the situation in Vietnam: “Tibetan and Vietnamese Buddhists share the same plight. The government of Vietnam, just like that of China, views religious practices outside State control as “threats against national security”, punishable by repression and arrest. In Vietnam today, the traditional Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) is banned and supplanted by a State-sponsored body under Communist Party control. UBCV leaders and followers are harassed and repressed. The UBCV Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang and his Deputy Thich Quang Do have spent 26 years in detention, and are still under house arrest today. Under the 2004 “Ordinance on Religions and Religious Beliefs“, “patriotic education” takes precedence over spiritual education in Vietnam. I express my heartfelt solidarity with the Tibetan people’s peaceful demands, and I am outraged that the Chinese government meets these demands with military violence and bloodshed”, said Vo Van Ai.
“By taking to the streets, the Tibetan people are using the only means they have to call for the freedoms and rights enshrined in the UN International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights to which China is a State party”, he said. “I call upon the United Nations to conduct an urgent inquiry into the Chinese government’s violent repression of these peaceful protests. I also call upon the international community to forcefully denounce the arrests and detention of Tibetan Buddhist monks nuns and lay-followers, as well as the on-going repression of religious and ethnic minorities and human rights defenders. As the Olympic Games draws near, it is high time for the international community to stand as one and insist that China respects fundamental human rights and adheres to international human rights standards”. q