Buddhist dignitary rejects US State Department's report

VNA, Nov3, 2004

Ha Noi, Vietnam - While attending the on-going 6th session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, Most venerable Thich Thanh Tu, deputy to the 11th National Assembly, voiced protests against the US Department of State's decision to list Viet Nam as one of  the countries of particular concern (CPC) in its annual report on religious freedom.

Most venerable Thich Thanh Tu, Permanent Vice President of the Executive Council of the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha, asked the US State Department to hold back its report on human rights and religious freedom in Viet Nam because this is an old-fashioned refrain.

The matter in Viet Nam that should be of concern to the US, he said, is the effect on the people resulting from the spraying of Agent Orange during the war.

Although it has been more than 30 years, many thousands of Vietnamese are still suffering from the effects of the chemical.

The Most Venerable asked, "Why did the US State Department not mention this matter?"

The Most Venerable continued: "We religious dignitaries fully reject the report and affirm that the US State Department still fails to have a correct evaluation of Viet Nam's spirit, belief and religion, and therefore continues to lack goodwill towards Viet Nam, adopting a viewpoint in commensurate with the two peoples' relations over the past years, aiming to put aside the past and look forward to the future.

"The Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha has always had goodwill toward the US, looking for additional information exchange to reach consensus on the situation of religion in general and Buddhism in particular, in order to further develop the relations between the two countries and people for a peaceful and happy life," the Most Venerable concluded.