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Human rights watch/Asia protests detention of Buddhist leaders



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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH /ASIA--------------------— — --------------------------------------------------— ----------------------------------- f Formerly Asia Watch □ 485 Fiftk Avenue, New York, NY 10017^6104 TEL (212) 972-8400 FAX (212) 972-0905 E-mail: kxwatclmyc@igc.apc.org Q 1522 K Street, NW, #91 0 , W askington, DC 20005-1202 TEL (202) 371-6592 FAX (202) 371-0124 E-mail: krwatckilc@igc.apc.org Q 10951 West Pico Boulevard, #203, Loe Angeles, CA 90064-2126 TEL (310) 475-.3070 FAX (310) 475-5613 E-mail: krwatcklaiS’igc.apc.org □ 33 Islington Higk Street, N1 9LH, London, UK TEL (4471) 713-1995 FAX (4471) 713-1800 E-maiLkrwatckuk@gn.apc.org

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Human Rights Watch/Asia Protests Detention of Buddhist Leaders

Human Rights Watch/Asia today protested Vietnam's detention within the last week o f the two senior leaders o f the Unified Buddhist Church (UBC). On December 29, security police removed Supreme Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang from Hoi Phuoc pagoda in Quang Ngai province, confiscating church documents

at the same time. On January 4, between 3:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M., security police in Ho Chi Minh City took into custody the number two leader o f the church, Venerable Thich Quang Do from Thanh Minh pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. Both temples have now been surrounded by security police, and it is not known where

the two monks are being held. Police interrogations of dozens o f monks in Hue and Ho Chi Minh City continued yesterday and today.

The detentions mean that virtually all the UBC's senior leaders are now- imprisoned or under house arrest. Human Rights Watch/Asia urged the Vietnamese government to release Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do, and to make known the whereabouts o f and charges against seven other Buddhists that

the government reportedly has arrested since November 1994.

Human Rights Watch/Asia expressed particular concern about the physical condition o f Venerable Thich Huyen Quang (whose secular name is Le Dinh Nhan), because of his age and health; he is seventy-seven years old and suffers from high blood pressure. Venerable Quang reportedly began a hunger strike on

December 27 to protest the continued detention of UBC monks arrested in November and the tightening o f a security cordon around his pagoda that has kept out visitors and doctors and has prevented him from getting medication for his high blood pressure. The government has held Venerable Quang in internal exile

at the Hoi Phuoc pagoda since 1982.

Surveillance of sixty-eight year old Venerable Thich Quang Do (Dang

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

.K E N N E T H R O T H , Executive Director · CY N TH IA B R O W N , Program Director · HO LLY J. B U RK H A LTER, Advocacy Director GARA L aM A R C H E , Associate Director · JUAN E. M E N D EZ , General Counsel · S U S A N O S N O S , Communications Director DERRICK W O N G , Finance & Administration Director · R O B E R T L. B E R N S T E IN , Chair · ADRIAN W. D tiW IN D , Vice Chair H u m a n Rights W atch L b a not-for-profit corporation m onitoring a nd prom oting hum an rignts in Africa, tne Americas. Asia, the M iddle E ast, a nd am ong tne signatoriee o t the Hels In Id acoords.

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Phuc Tue) has tightened since early November, when he protested the arrest of membersof a UBC organized flood relief mission. According to unconfirmed reports, his detention on January 4 was preceded by a police search o f his pagoda on December 31. He has been confined to the area around his pagoda since he returned to Ho Chi Minh City in 1992 from a decade of government-imposed exile in his native village of Vu Doai in Thai Binh province.

The Unified Buddhist Church (UBC) was the main Buddhist organization in the south prior to 1975, when the communist forces gained control and unified the country. It attracted worldwide attention for its protests against religious repression under the Diem government when church leader Thich Quang Due immolated himself on a Saigon street comer in 1963. Although the UBC had opposed the war, the new communist government confiscated its property, jailed many of its leaders, and merged it into the state-created Vietnam Buddhist Church.

Since 1992, Venerable Thich Huyen Quang has publicly called for the government to recognize the UBC, return its property, release religious prisoners, cease interference in religious affairs and education, and respect human rights. The government responded to these demands with searches and arrests. A series of protests and self-immolations on the part o f the Buddhists and further jailings by the government has added to tensions over the last two years.

Last week's detentions were preceded by a government crack-down against flood relief efforts of the UBC and the arrest o f five Buddhists in November. Thich Khong Tanh (Phan Ngoc An), Thich Tri Luc, Thich Nhat Ban and lay Buddhists Nhat Tuong (Pham Van Xua) and Dong Ngoc (Nguyen Thi Em) were arrested on November 5 and 6 for planning a mission to bring food and medical supplies to the victims of severe flooding in the Mekong Delta. Both Thich Tri Luc and Thich Khong Tanh previously had been arrested in 1992 for possessing Venerable Quang's writings. The government is holding these five in a detention center at 3C Ton Due Thang Street in Ho Chi Minh City. Venerable

Thich Huyen Quang's hunger strike was reportedly a protest of the Vietnamese government's refusal to release these five, or even acknowledge that they had been arrested.

There were signs that unrest was spreading to the state-controlled Vietnam Buddhist Church as well, when a group of novice monks and nuns protested the opening of a religious school at the Bao Quoc pagoda in Hue on November 27, 1994. According to Buddhist sources, the demonstrators peacefully brought a petition objecting to government interference with religious education, but were beaten by security police and certain monks. The Vietnamese government claims that protesters were violent and injured persons at the scene. Since the incident, there have been unconfirmed reports of police raids on pagodas and the arrests of two monks, Thich Thai Hung of the Phuoc Duyen pagoda

and and Thich Hanh Due of the Linh Quang pagoda, both in Hue. ### Human Rights Watch/Asia (formerly Asia Watch) Human Rights Watch is a nongovernmental organization established in 197S to monitor and promote the observance o f

internationally recognized human rights in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and among the signatories o f the Helsinki accords. Kenneth Roth is the executive director: Cynthia Brown is the program director: Holly J. Burkhalter is the advocacy director: Gara LaMarche is the associate director; Juan E. Mendez is general counsel; and Susan Osnos is the communications director. Robert L. Bernstein is the chair o f the executive committee and Adrian W. DeWind is vice chair. Its Asia division was established in 1985 to monitor and promote the observance o f internationally recognized human rights in Asia. Sidney Jones is the executive director; Mike Jendrzejezvk is the Washington director; Robin Munro is the Hong

Kong director; Zunetta Liddell, Dinah PoKempner, Patricia Gossman and Jeannine Guthrie are research associates; Mark Girouard is a Luce fellow; Diana Cheng and Jennifer Hyman are associates: Mickey Speigel is a research consultant.

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Hunger-Striking Monk Arrested, Human Rights Group Reports HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ The leader of a banned Buddhist group was arrested on the fourth day o f a hunger strike, a French-based human rights group said today.

Thich Huyen Quang began his hunger strike on Dec. 27 to protest recent arrests of monks and laymen belonging to his Unified Buddhist Church o f Vietnam, the Vietnamese Committee on Human Rights reported.

The committee quoted church members as saying police entered Quang's pagoda on Saturday and led him away. His whereabouts were not known, it said. The report by the committee, based in Gennevilliers, France,

could not be independently confirmed. The Foreign Ministry said it did not have any information about the reported hunger strike or arrest. The government banned independent Buddhist groups in 1981, and

created a single, state-supervised umbrella organization called the Vietnam Buddhist Church. About three-fourths o f Vietnam's 72 million people are said to be Buddhists. Authorities have confined Quang, 77, to Hoi Phuoc Pagoda in

Quang Ngai province, 325 miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, since 1982, his supporters said. The human rights committee said police had recently begun barring visitors, including a doctor treating Quang for high blood pressure.

Police also recently stepped up arrests of Quang's followers, according to the committee. It said two monks, Thich Thai Hung and Thich Hanh Due, were arrested Dec. 25 in the central city of Hue. The arrests were believed linked to a November protest by students at a Buddhist school in Hue who objected to government restrictions on enrollment and curriculum.

Other members o f the banned church reportedly were arrested in early November when they tried to deliver relief supplies to victims o f heavy floods in the Mekong River delta. The government generally denies repressing religion, but in turn

accuses the Buddhists of violating laws. AP-DS-01-03-95 0208EST