Vietnam youth ban condemned

INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST INFORMATION BUREAU, Nov 10, 2004

Bodhgaya, India -- Representatives of the Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Movement (Gia Dinh Phat Tu Viet Nam) from the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia gathering in Bodhgaya, India, for the Festival of the World Movement of Vietnamese Buddhist Youth from 7-9 November 2004, issued two Resolutions protesting the Vietnamese government?s ban on 21 Buddhist Youth leaders in Vietnam from attending the Festival, and reaffirming their movement?s unwavering support for the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) in its peaceful struggle for religious freedom and human rights in Vietnam.

In an Urgent Resolution issued at the close of the 3-day meeting, participants ?strongly condemn[ed] the interception and intimidation of delegates from the Buddhist Youth Movement in Vietnam to the World Movement?s Festival. We vigorously denounce this uncivilized and repressive act, which demonstrates the blatant contempt of the authorities of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for domestic and international law?.

It called on ?the international media and human rights organizations to support our appeal and press the Vietnamese authorities to respect its international obligations?. The Resolution stressed that the 21 Buddhist Youth leaders, all of whom had valid travel documents, had been formally invited by the movement?s Steering Committee in order to strengthen links between sections of the Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Movement at home and abroad, at a time when the movement ?is developing rapidly, and reaching out across borders to foster educational development worldwide?.

Although the 21 Buddhist leaders from Vietnam were prevented from attending the Festival, one of their most prominent members, Central Committee President Nguyen Chau, sent a recorded message to the gathering smuggled clandestinely from Vietnam, in which he reaffirmed the Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Movement?s determination to support the dissident UBCV. Nguyen Chau was unanimously elected as the first President of the newly-formed World Movement of Vietnamese Buddhist Youth.

In its General Resolution, participants the World Movement of Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Festival stressed:

  • ?the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) is the legitimate heir to a 2,000-year tradition of Vietnamese Buddhism. Its teachings reflect the culture and aspirations of the Vietnamese people, and it is categorically opposed to the imposition of political doctrines on religious organizations of any kind;
  • ?As an educational movement with sections all over Vietnam and around the world and a rapidly-growing 300,000-strong membership, the Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Movement reaffirms that it is an affiliated member of the UBCV and has remained faithful to the UBCV despite all hardships and harassments;
  • ?the Vietnamese Communist authorities are implementing cruel and pervasive stratagems to suppress the UBCV, and have intensified repression against all UBCV leaders and members of the Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Movement at all levels ;
  • Therefore, the Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Movement solemnly pledges its unwavering commitment to actively support the UBCV, and be prepared in all circumstances to provide a ?reserve force? of young Buddhists to assist the UBCV in all its endeavors ; ... we pledge to serve Buddhism, the Vietnamese people and humankind... and never permit any malevolent forces to separate or  divide us?. 

This strong pledge of support from the Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Movement is extremely significant, coming at a time when the UBCV is subjected to severe government repression, and UBCV leaders Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang and his Deputy Thich Quang Do are detained under administrative detention at their Monasteries, respectively in Binh Dinh Province and Ho Chi Minh City.

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