Human Rights for Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam sign now

To : Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
The Government of Vietnam,
The Governments of the Free World,
The Human Rights Organizations,
and The United States President and Congress


Venerable Thich Khong Tanh, Commissioner for Social and Humanitarian
Affairs of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) was
arrested outside the government Complaint's Office at 110 Cau Giay
Street
at 8.00 am on Thursday 23rd August as he began distributing aid to the
demonstrators.
Thich Khong Tanh arrived with a UBCV delegation in Hanoi on the 21st of
August with 300 million VNDs (approx. $19,000 US dollars) raised by the
UBCV following an appeal launched by UBCV Deputy leader Thich Quang Do
on
the 10th of August 2007. He had hoped to distribute the money to the
dispossessed farmers and peasants, just as Thich Quang Do and a UBCV
delegation had given aid to protesters outside the National Assembly's
southern office in Saigon on 17th July 2007. Thich Khong Tanh's trip
was
the first in a series of planned initiatives to distribute funds
donated
by the Vietnamese people around the world to a "Relief Fund for Victims
of
Injustice" set up by the UBCV.
He arrived at 110 Cau Giay Street at 8:00am, a crowd of Security Police
rushed towards the monk, surrounded him and placed him under arrest.
Police seized the bundle of envelopes Thich Khong Tanh was about to
distribute. Thich Khong Tanh was taken in a closed vehicle to another
office some distance away. Thich Khong Tanh said the address was 1/34
Au
Co Street. There, he was subjected to intensive interrogations by
several
Security agents. However, he refused to answer their questions, stating
that he had committed no crime and was simply exercising his legitimate
right to freedom of religion and carrying out charitable acts. Thich
Khong
Tanh began a hunger strike, declaring that he would not have any food
or
drink nor answer any further questions until he was released.
A top Hanoi Security official, Lt. General Nguyen Van Huong,
Vice-Minister
of Public Security entered the room. Vice-Minister Huong expressed the
government's discontent of the UBCV's support for the farmers and
peasants. He said "They are not poor at all, they possess billions of
VND,
but they are incited by hostile forces to file complaints in order to
oppose the government. I forbid you to distribute aid to these people.
Instead, I suggest you give your money to the Vietnam Fatherland Front
to
relieve victims of Agent Orange. The government will commend your
efforts.
Otherwise, you will be in serious trouble".
Thich Khong Tanh replied that many governments and organizations were
helping victims of Agent Orange, whereas the Victims of Injustice were
in
dire distress. Moreover, the money given by overseas the Vietnamese
people
to the UBCV Relief Fund could not be given to any other cause.
Last July The Norwegian Ambassador to Hanoi, visited Thich Quang Do.
Thich
Quang Do laid down four conditions for Buddhist reunification in
Vietnam.
1) that Hanoi should first re-establish the legal status of the banned
UBCV; 2) that Hanoi should restore all cultural, educational,
religious,
humanitarian instiutions, as well as estates and property confiscated
from
the UBCV since 1975. First and foremost, Vietnam should immediately
return
two key UBCV institutions, the Vietnam Quoc Tu Pagoda and the Quang Duc
Cultural Centre in Saigon to provide accommodation for the UBCV's
Bi-cameral Institutes, the Institute of the Sangha (Vien Tang Thong)
and
the Institute for the Dissemination of the Faith (Vien Hoa Dao); 3)
that
Vietnam should release the Vietnam Buddhist Church, set up by the
Communist Party and the government in 1981, from Communist Party
control.
It should function independently, and not be a member of the CPV's
Vietnam
Fatherland Front; 4) that Vietnam should clarify the circumstances of
the
death of UBCV leader Thich Thien Minh who died under torture during
Police
interrogations in Saigon in 1978.
Mr. President, the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam needs your help.
The
government of Vietnam has harassed and placed people in prison. The
government has taken away their people's properties. The government has
outlawed the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. Vietnam does not have
freedom of speech and religion, and most importantly a democracy. Mr.
President, if you could help them, than the Vietnamese people would
thank
you and never forget you. The government of Vietnam would no longer
outlaw
the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, if you help them. Thank you for
your time.

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