Vietnam?s Unified Buddhist Church complains of increased repression, November 22, 2005

Police harass monks who are accused by the government press and the official church of backing “hostile foreign forces”.

Hanoi, Vietnam -- The Unified Buddhist Church in Vietnam has complained about increased repression, stricter surveillance and attacks by government press. This church is not recognized in the country.

According to the International Office of Buddhist Information, the Number 2 of the Unified Buddhist Church, 77-year-old monk, Thich Quang Do, was submitted to police pressure when he went to a pagoda in Ho Chi Min City to pay homage to a seventeenth century Zen monk. This happened on Saturday: several other monks present were also harassed and the police took photos of people inside the pagoda.

The monk Do, who lives practically under house arrest as does his superior, 86-year-old Thich Huyen Quang, returned safe and sound, even if ?frightened and worried? to his monastery.

The Unified Buddhist Church, which was banned in 1981 when it refused to submit to the Communist Party, has for some time now been subject to attacks by the regime?s media, which accuses the church of wanting to restart its committees.

On 15 November, the Vietnamese agency AVI, citing the official church, reported ?some old members? of the Unified Buddhist Church ?had separated from the Buddhist movement and the entire nation, with the backing of hostile foreign forces?. The agency condemned appeals which ?some members of the disbanded organization? were making for its re-constitution.