Thượng Tọa Thích Thái Ḥa Tổng Vụ Trưởng Tổng Vụ Hoằng Pháp

Thượng Tọa Thích Viên Định Đệ Nhị Phó Viện Trưởng (VP1)

 

 

 

On October 30, 2003 IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES - Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California (for herself, Mr. SMITH of New Jersey, Ms. LOFGREN, Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia, and Mr. ROYCE)  introduced the below resolution on religious freedom and related human rights in Vietnam which was referred to the Committee on International Relations. 


H. RES. 427 -- Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the courageous leadership of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and the urgent need for religious freedom and related human rights in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES - October 30, 2003
Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California (for herself, Mr. SMITH of New Jersey, Ms. LOFGREN, Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia, and Mr. ROYCE) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RESOLUTION
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the courageous leadership of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and the urgent need for religious freedom and related human rights in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam .

Whereas Buddhism has a 2,000-year tradition in Vietnam and the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) is an heir to this tradition;

Whereas the Government of Vietnam in 1981 declared the UBCV, the largest religious denomination in the country, illegal, confiscated its temples, and persecuted its clergy for refusing to join the state-sponsored Buddhist organizations;

Whereas the Government of Vietnam has often imprisoned UBCV clergy and subjected them to other forms of persecution; the Patriarch of the UBCV, the 85-year-old Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, has been detained for 21 years in a decrepit temple in an isolated area of central Vietnam ;

Whereas the Vietnamese Government has held the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, the Executive President of the UBCV and his deputy, the Venerable Thich Tue Sy, in various forms of detention since 1977;

Whereas the Very Venerable Thich Thien Minh, Supreme Counselor of the UBCV, was tortured to death in a reeducation camp in 1978;

Whereas many other leading UBCV figures, including Thich Thien Hanh, Thich Phuoc An, Thich Dong Tho, Thich Vien Dinh, Thich Thai Hoa, Thich Nguyen Ly, Thich Thanh Huyen, Thich Khong Tanh, Thich Phuoc Vien, Thich Hai Tang, Thich Dong Tho, Thich Nguyen Vuong, Thich Chi Mau, Thich Chi Thang, and Thich Thanh Quang have been detained, harassed, and under tight surveillance;

Whereas several members of the UBCV have fled to Cambodia to escape religious repression and harassment;

Whereas Thich Tri Luc was kidnapped in Cambodia by Vietnamese authorities after being given refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), forcibly repatriated, and held incommunicado for a year, and now stands charged with the vague crime of `fleeing abroad or defecting overseas with the intent to oppose the people's administration' that carries the possible sentence of life imprisonment;

Whereas Vietnam has acceded to international covenants and treaties that prohibit the forced repatriation of UNHCR-recognized refugees;

Whereas Vietnam has acceded to international covenants and treaties that protect the right to faith, belief, and practice;

Whereas Vietnam's constitution protects the right of religious belief;

Whereas in a show of religious tolerance, the Vietnamese Government in April 2003 allowed the Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, the Fourth Supreme Patriarch of the UBCV, to receive urgent medical care in Hanoi;

Whereas at that time, Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai met with Venerable Thich Huyen Quang and assured him that his and Venerable Thich Quang Do's detention were mistakes by local officials and that he hoped they would extend Buddhist forgiveness toward past actions of the government;

Whereas in June 2003, the Vietnamese Government ended the detention order against Venerable Thich Quang Do, the Executive President of the UBCV;


Whereas in September and October 2003, the UBCV held a meeting in Nguyen Thieu Pagoda in Binh Dinh province to discuss church affairs, choose a new leadership which had been vacant for a decade, and verify Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai's promise of a new era of understanding and respect;

Whereas Vietnamese authorities attempted to disrupt these gatherings by restricting the travel of monks from other provinces and then intimidating those attending;

Whereas on October 8, 2003, Vietnamese authorities initiated a tense standoff following the meeting, where police stopped a vehicle carrying the UBCV's new leadership and subsequently detained the eleven passengers;

Whereas Venerables Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do were taken to their respective pagodas where they have been effectively isolated and detained; four senior monks, the Venerable Thich Tue Sy, Thich Thanh Huyen, Thich Nguyen Ly, and the UBCV Supreme Patriarch's personal assistant, Venerable Thich Dong Tho, were immediately sentenced to 24 months of administrative detainment by written orders of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee, and three others, the Venerables Thich Thien Hanh, Thich Thai Hoa, and Thich
Nguyen Vuong to 24 months administrative detainment by `oral' orders from various local authorities, in protest of which the Venerable Thich Thien Hanh initiated a hunger strike on October 19, 2003;

Whereas according to reports by the United States State Department, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the European Union, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam systematically limits the right of religious organizations to choose their own clergy; prior to the UBCV incidents, authorities tried to restrict the Vatican's appointment of
Archbishop Pham Minh Man to the position of Cardinal, but subsequently changed their position due to external pressure;

Whereas according to these same reports, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam uses house arrest and long prison sentences to punish individuals for practicing their faith, as evidenced also by the jail sentences handed down to Father Nguyen Van Ly, his three relatives, Christian Montagnards, and Hoa Hao Buddhists; and

Whereas because of systematic, egregious, and ongoing abuses of religious freedom, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that the President of the United States designate Vietnam as a `country of particular concern' under the provisions of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) congratulates the new leadership of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam ;

(2) urges the Government of Vietnam to respect the right of all independent religious organizations to meet, worship, operate, and practice their faith in accordance with Vietnam's own constitution and international covenants to which Vietnam is a signatory;

(3) urges the Government of Vietnam to restore freedom to all Vietnamese citizens imprisoned or under house arrest for practicing their faith or for advocating freedom of religion, especially the Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang and the Very Venerable Thich Quang Do;

(4) is committed to promoting religious freedom in Vietnam , and, in furtherance of this goal, urges the Congress to pass, and the President to sign into law, the Vietnam Human Rights Act, and urges the Congress and the executive branch to implement the recommendations of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom; and

(5) urges the United States Embassy in Vietnam to closely monitor cases of abuse of religious belief and practice, routinely visit detained clergy members, especially those in need of medical care, and report to the Congress on specific measures taken to protect and promote religious freedom in Vietnam .

 

The State of Religions in Vietnam:
Government Policy Towards the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam
Statement before the Commission on International Religious Freedom

February 13, 2001
Ven. Thich Thai Hoa
First Secretary of the Sangha of Thua Thien Hue
Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam

 

Chua Tu Hieu, Thon Thuong 2
Xa Thuy Xuan, Hue, Vietnam
phone: 011-84-54836-389
email:
TUHIEU@dng.vnn.vn

Mr. Chairman,

Responding to your invitation letter of October 1, 2001, 1 would like to submit this statement about the state of religious freedom in my country with regard to the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV).

Specifically, you want to know about the consequence of the government's policy on the UBCV in general and myself as a monk in particular. You also ask me about the connection between the US-Vietnam bilateral trade agreement (BTA) and the prospect of religious freedom and what the international community can do to promote religious freedom in Vietnam.

The basis of my testimony consists of not only documentary evidence but also what I have witnessed in terms of the policy and attitude of the communist govenu-nent towards UBCV.

I. UBCV's situation and the difficulties it faces

The persons best positioned to testify before the Commission are the Most Venerables Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do. They are the patriarchs of UBCV and have confronted the government's policy of repression for the past 26 years in order to preserve our Church and religion.

The Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang was the Vice-Rector of the Vien Hoa Dao Institute (Institute for the Propagation of the Dharma). In 1977 the Communist government jailed him at Phan Dang Luu Prison on the charge of "not compromising with the Communist government;" he was released in December 1978.

In 1981, the Government forced the Most Venerable Thich Tri Thu and other monks to form the government-sponsored Buddhist Church of Vietnam (BCV). On February 1982, the Government arrested and sent the Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang to internal exile at Hoi Phuoc Temple, Quang Ngai Province. The Government turned that temple into a prison, with around-the-clock surveillance by the public security police. In 1993 he was transferred to a prison that the Government built specifically for him - it was located within the confines of Quang Phuoc Temple, Quang Ngai, where he remains to this day.

For the past 20 years, The Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, the spiritual leader of UBCV has been internally exiled by the government without charges or trial. He has repeatedly challenged the Government to try him in the court of law if he has done anything illegal. The Government has consistently ignored his request.

The Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, the Secretary General of UBCV's Vien Hoa Dao Institute, was sent to Phan Dang Luu Prison on April 6, 1977 because, the Government argues, "conducting religious activities is tantamount to engaging in political activities." He was released on December 12, 1978.

In 1981, following the formation of the state-sponsored BCV, Ven. Thich Quang Do was taken from Thanh Minh Zen Institute in Saigon and exiled to Vu Doai Village in Thai Binh Province for no obvious reason. After 10 years of forced exile, he returned to Thanh Minh Zen Institute without government permission. Despite multiple eviction orders from the local authorities, he has refused to leave the institute.

On January 4, 1995 the Government sent him to a detention center in Nam Ha Province because he organized a UBCV floods relief effort. He was released on March 8, 1998.

In 1999, he made a trip to Quang Ngai to visit the Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang. He was arrested and escorted back to Saigon. That year, UBCV appointed him Rector of Vien Hoa Dao Institute.

Last year, the floods devastated Central Vietnam. He again organized a relief effort to help the flood victims. The government again prohibited him from providing relief under the name of UBCV.

Above are a few examples of the difficulties our Church leaders are facing since the Communists took over South Vietnam. Its strategy to destroy our Church is as follows.

(i) Deny clergy members household registration at their temples, making their stay at their own temples illegal.

(ii) Abolish UBCV's organizational structure necessary for its educational, cultural and social services.

(iii) Decimate, divide and isolate the leadership of UBCV. Venerable Thich Thien Minh, Chief Counsel to Vien Hoa Dao Institute, was imprisoned without charge and passed away in detention. Venerables Thich Duc Nhuan, Thich Tue Si, Thich Tri Sieu, Thich Nguyen Giac, Thich Phuoc Vien, Thich Khong Tanh, Thich Tri Tuu, Thich Hai Tang, Thich Hai Chanh, Thich Hai Thinh, Thich Nhat Ban, Thich Hanh Duc, Thich Tri Hai, Thich Nhat Khuong and many more were imprisoned in the 1980s and 1990s.

(iv) Demolish religious buildings, architectures, and statues; and confiscate church properties, some of which were then used as storage or transformed into governi-nent buildings. In November 1975, twelve Buddhist monks self-immolated to protest such destruction of church properties. One clear illustration of this policy is Decision No. 525 QDUB issued by the People's Committee of Binh Tri Thien Province on August 7, 1980, which stated that "Nam Son Temple at Thanh Thuy Thuong Village must be relocated so that its land be used for the construction of Lien Hop textile factory according to government directive."

Facing the Government's policy of religious repression, many clergy members of UBCV such as the Most Venerables Thich Man Giac, Thich Ho Giac and many younger monks had to escape from Communist Vietnam to continue their religious vocation and to fight for religious freedom in Vietnam from overseas.

On August 17, 1992, Phan Minh Tanh, head of the Office of Public Mobilization issued Secret Order No. 125/TBDV ordering all provinces and districts to prevent the Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang from using any temple as the seat of Vien Hoa Dao Institute; from using UBCV's official stamp, which must be handed over to the government; from assuming the role of Rector of Vien Hoa Dao Institute; and from traveling even within the country. On November 7, 1992 the Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang issued the 9-point Statement No. 024 VPLV-VHD to denounce this secret order.

Persecution against UBCV has since become all the more intense. In a secret memorandum (No. 023/HV) signed on June 24, 1999 by Mr. Nguyen Dinh Tuy, Head of the P 18 Bureau, the Vietnamese Government set a plan to paralyze the overseas branch of UBCV.

Mr. Chairman,

Our Church has been victim of a consistent, prolonged and sophisticated policy of repression and persecution for the past 26 years. I recommend that your Commission send a delegation to Vietnam and conduct your own investigation. Venerable Thich Huyen Quan is 83 years old and in ill health. Venerable Thich Quang Do is 74 and has diabetes and high blood pressure. I appeal to all those who are concerned about religious freedom in Vietnam to help and support these two religious leaders. I recommend that the US Congress and the Commission on International Religious Freedom in particular to send delegations to meet with them. They will provide you with plenty of evidence of the Vietnamese government's policy of religious persecution.

On the other hand, if you ask the Vietnamese government about religious freedom, they will respond that the status of UBCV is an internal matter of the Buddhist Church and the government refrains from interference with Church matters, and that UBCV was merged with BCV in 1981 and therefore no longer exists.

In reality, the government has relentlessly interfered with the operation and activities of UBCV by all means, from threats to corruption, from imprisonment to isolation. UBCV has never agreed to join BCV and did not send any representative to the Congress held at Quan Su Temple in Ha Noi in 1981, from which BCV was created. I therefore call on you to support UBCV so that it may continue its existence and service to the Vietnamese people and humanity.

As for BCV, its own Charter claims that it is a trusted member of the National Front of Vietnam, which is an extension of the Communist Party. BCV is an institution created and operated by the Communist Party. In 1979, Xuan Thuy, -Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, ordered Do Trung Hieu, counsel for the Communist Party, to create BCV following an inverted pyramid model-heavy at the top but with nothing at the bottom, meaning without followers. Such an institution was not designed to serve Buddhism but to serve the Communist Party. Hieu wrote in his 1991 memoir that "the unification of the Buddhist Church (in 198 1) on the facade was effected by the Buddhist monks but in fact was manipulated by the Party to become a puppet organization in the service of the Party."

In the aforementioned secret memorandum (No. 023/HV), Nguyen Dinh Tuy ordered his subordinates to "dismember" the overseas UBCV so as to ensure the survival and credibility of BCV, whose mission is to serve the State and the Party.

II. Consequences of the Government's policy on myself as a Buddhist monk

I entered Phuoc Duyen monastery in Hue when I was 12 years old. In 1973 1 was ordained Bhikkhu at the age of 20. In 1975, 1 was 22 when the Vietnamese communists took over my entire country. I was mobilized by the Communist government to serve in its army. I had to do manual labor to earn a living and was under constant surveillance. My religious activities were almost completely restricted.

In 1981, Venerable Thich Tri Thu sent me to Quang Huong Gia Lam Seminary in Saigon. However, I did not have household registration there and was repeatedly expelled from the seminary by the public security police. In 1984, Venerable Thich Tue Si and Thich Tri Sieu were arrested and Venerable Thich Tri Thu passed away. The Seminary was disbanded. I returned to Hue in 1985 and was constantly questioned by the public security police for my ties with the above monks. I had to write self-reports on a regular basis. When my mother passed away and I returned to my native village to attend her funerals, the local public security police there investigated me for not having household registration

The government uses household registration as a powerful means to harass and control people on its black list. The government has recently relaxed restriction on domestic travel but still keeps suspects under close surveillance. I have been questioned by the public security police every time I travel to another city. For example last July I was invited to conduct a meditation session at Phu Son Temple in Quang Nam Province. The local public security police interrupted and ended the session. it is extremely hard for people like me to get a passport to travel abroad. In 1998, 1 was invited to conduct a meditation session in Laos for Vietnamese residents in that country but was not allowed to go. Last August, the United Nations invited me to speak at its Millennium Peace Summit. The Vietnamese government barred me from going but instead sent a government-selected delegation to the summit. This delegation was not admitted to the summit as its members were not on the guest list of the United Nations.

Vietnam's Constitution and laws provide for freedom of movement, freedom of residence, freedom of religion... However, the government has employed every possible means to restrict my exercising such freedoms.

III. Consequences of the Government's policy on the Buddhist community

Article 70 of Vietnam's Constitution and Protocol 26 specify that "the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam guarantees freedom of faith and religion, and the right of citizens to the freedom of faith and religion," "the law prohibits discrimination on the ground of faith and religion," and "regardless of their religion or lack of religion, all citizens are equal before the law, are entitled to the same civil rights, and share the same civic duties."

These euphemisms do not reflect the reality. The following facts illustrate this reality.

1. The Communist Government does not recognize even the major religious holidays: the Vesak (Buddha's birthday) and Christmas.

2. In each person's citizen identity card and official documents such as school records, job application, petition for exit pennit, the government always lists his or her religion. The government then uses this information as grounds for discrimination.

3. Over 95% of Vietnamese have a religion. Yet, everyone in a leadership position in the government is an atheist, from the village chief to the head of the state, ministers, and department heads. This is a reality. In your country, whether you are Republican or Democrat, you are not required to abandon your religion. In my country, those who want to join the Communist Party must first denounce their religions.

4. In Vietnam the Churches do not interfere with government affairs but the Government interferes with the internal affairs of the Churches. Article 20, Section 2 of Government Decree 26/1999 ND-CP, specifies that "the ordination of those who carry the title of Most Venerable in the Buddhist Church; of cardinals, bishops, administrators in the Catholic Church; and of dignitaries of equivalent function of other religions, shall require the approval of the Prime Minister" and that "the ordination of the clergy and officials, not in the categories cited [above], shall require the approval of the chairman of the provincial people's committee." This is blatant interference in Church affairs by the Government.

You may ask that if the Government represses freedom of religion then how come there are Churches and religious activities in Vietnam.

In fact the Churches are considered as mere associations governed by Article 3 of Public Law No. 102/SL issued on May 20, 1957 and Article I of Directive No. I dated January 5, 1989 of the Council of Ministers. These Churches are relegated to the level of groups such as Women's Association, Bird Feeders Association, Soccer League, or Association of the Blind or even inferior to these organizations because the Communist Government views religions as opium that corrupts the people. In their eyes, religions have no beneficial value and therefore do not deserve respect. No association, including the Churches, in my country may exist without the direction and control of the government.

These Churches are only the shell giving an appearance of religious freedom while the content and authority are not in the hands of the Office for Religious Affairs and the National Front of Vietnam, not of the Church leaders. The National Front of Vietnam is headed by Pham The Duyet, member of the Communist Party's Central Committee, and the Office of Religious Affairs is directed by Prime Minister Phan Van Khai and President Tran Duc Luong. In 1993, Pharn Ba Dien, Chairman of the People's Committee of Thua Thien Province issued Notice No. 1108 TB/UBND to abolish the Sangha of Thua Thien Province. The Association of Buddhist Families of Vietnam, a youth organization created by UBCV, was abolished by the Government in 1981. However, this association continued its underground activities until recently when the Government used the BCV to split it into two.

Last Saturday and Sunday (8 and 9 of February) the Sangha of Thua Thien Hue, of which I am the First Secretary, organized two days of prayers for world peace and our nation's welfare. Some 500 Buddhist priests and followers attended these prayers at Tu Hieu Ancestral Temple. However many Buddhists were prevented from attending or harassed and threatened when they attempted to come to the temple. The public security police ordered many Buddhist monks not to participate and threatened disciplinary actions against governinent employees who may attend. The authorities of Phong Dien, Quang Dien, Phu Loc, Phu Vang, and Huong Tra Villages and of Hue City ordered high schools and colleges to hold classes on Saturday and Sunday so that teachers and students could not come to the prayer service; the order announced eviction of students and teachers who would skip classes on those two days. Several Buddhist practitioners who participated in the prayer service have received summons to appear at the local police station for questioning.

Freedom of religion in Vietnam only exists on paper.

IV. Opinions on the US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement

I have serious doubts about the implementation of this agreement after it was signed by the two governments.

History has shown time and again that the Communist Government of Vietnam gives short shrift to international or bilateral accords. In 1973 the Communist Government signed the Paris Accord but invaded the Republic of Vietnam in 1975.

When Vietnam joined the United Nations in 1977, its government concurred with the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, this same government has violated the rights of its citizens as declared in this UN document. In 1982, Vietnam became a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and thereby agreed to respect international accords and the privacy of the individuals. However, my mail has been intercepted and my phone calls to overseas have been monitored and disrupted. These precedents cause me to have serious doubts about the Vietnamese Government's intention to implement the BTA.

Moreover, the Government of Vietnam is only an administrator while the Communist Party is the leader. An agreement signed with a servant may not mean much to the master. The Communist Government is only interested in economic reforins that create a market economy for state agencies, state-owned corporations, and Party members, not for the people of Vietnam.

I do not think that the BTA will help improve human rights and promote religious freedom in Vietnam.

V. What can we do to improve freedom of religion in Vietnam?

Following are my recommendations.

In the short term, the Vietnamese Government must be made to strictly abide by international agreements it has signed, and by the provisions on religious fteedorn in its own Constitution. In the long run, democracy is the pre-condition for true freedom of religion in Vietnam. Your government should not establish diplomatic relation with Vietnam only to facilitate trade but to promote comprehensive exchanges: the trade agreement should be ratified only after the two countries have signed an agreement on democracy, an agreement on religious freedom, and an agreement on human rights. In doing so, your government will help Vietnam establish true separation of power among the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The only way to promote religious freedom in Vietnam is to transfonn the Communist regime into a democratic one.

I do not intend to criticize or praise any one. I only present the truth so that those who have tried to distort this truth will have to rethink, and those who want to know the truth will understand what really happens in my country. I prepare this statement in the spirit of correct speech, correct karma, correct thought and correct views called for by my religion.

I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission, for having given me this opportunity to present to you the reality about religions in Vietnam.

 

News Source:
Mr. Chau Nguyen
Overseas Hoa Hao Buddhist Association
Derwood, Maryland, USA
Date: February 13, 2001
Time: 12:00 PM

VIETNAM, NEWS ANALYSIS, SEPTEMBER 2, 2000.

 

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AROUND THE SEPTEMBER 2 CELEBRATION

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The September 2nd Anniversary commemorating the establishment of the Vietnam Communist regime under Ho Chi Minh in `1945, has been held every year since. This year, however, the Sept. 2 celebrations were prepared at a rather large scale. There are military review and parade with the participation of many state-controlled associations, party external organizations, groups of faithful Communist veterans and colorful floats.

That day fifty-five years ago, Ho Chi Minh declared the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the so-called Declaration of Independence, and introduced his Cabinet.

Two weeks before, on August 18, a spontaneous meeting and demonstration was held by the Association of Public Servants to support independence and democracy for Vietnam. A group of two dozen of Communist cadres took advantage of the occasion, seizing the microphone and the central stage, waving the yellow-star-on-red banner, leading the crowd of many thousand people to occupy key government offices.

The establishment of Ho Chi Minh government was immediately opposed by most of non-Communist revolutionary parties because Ho and his men broke the promise to act in concordance with the resolution made previously at an important meeting in China of the Viet Nam Cach Menh Dong Minh Hoi (VNCMDMH, or Vietnam Revolutionary League). The VNCMDMH consisted of all major anti-colonialism revolutionary parties including Ho's Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi (Viet Minh, or Vietnam Independence League).

According to the Resolution, all member associations would cooperate with each other and would follow the decision for a general uprising to be taken by the VNCMDMH standing committee. Ho was sent back to Vietnam as the league's envoy to observe the situation in the country and report his evaluation to the league headquarters in China for the decision.

The act of betrayal by Ho infuriated the nationalists, under whose pressure Ho had to form a coalition government in 1946. In Summer 1946, the Communists launched a brutal terrorist campaign to eliminate the opposition, killing thousands of nationalist activists along with skillful and forceful slanderous propaganda campaign against them. The victims included nearly half of the representatives of the Parliament in the non-communist bloc, and most of nationalist patriots and prospective non-communist leaders who had both virtue and talents.

The campaign lasted for years, successfully getting rid of key opponents. It led to the birth of the anti-Communist front of non-communist patriots who escaped the Viet Minh control to take shelter in the French occupied areas. It is believed that if Ho had sincerely cooperated with the nationalist side as his appeal for greater solidarity in Spring 1946, the war against French colonialism would have ended much earlier and Vietnam would not have suffered the bloody 1960-75 nationalism-communism war between the Soviet-China-backed North Vietnam and the American-backed South Vietnam.

The Sept. 2 celebration this year is one of the series of unusually pompous festivals, celebrations and conferences. They are scheduled with noticeable intentions to buoy up the spirit of the people and party members, who have long been downhearted because of Communist realities. A huge part of the national budget is spent for the events while millions of people are living in extreme poverty, and budgets for education and public health care are below 7 percent each.

***

Besides, the Vietnam Communist Party (VCP) government announced that it would release 10,693 prisoners, among them 61 are foreigners including 4 Vietnamese Americans. As usual, VCP government did not release a list of prisoners to be set free, and its officials said that it has never held any political or religious prisoners, the reiteration of a Communist time-worn expression in the last 55 years.

Although the number of inmates being released is comparatively large, it is unknown how many prisoners are still in nearly a hundred prison camps at national , provincial and district levels. It is more difficult to estimate how many people who were and will be sent to prison to fill the vacant rooms left by the released inmates. The VCP regime is notorious of maintaining a pool of political and religious prisoners to have someone to release when it is necessary to do so to lessen international criticism of Hanoi's human rights record.

***

The celebrations do not make VCP authorities hesitate to exert political security measures. State-controlled media in Hanoi reported that Mr. Le Quang Liem, a senior leader of the Hoa Hao Buddhist Church would be tried at a court in Saigon for the charge of "spying for foreign power." The evidence is mostly made up.

In a telephone interview with Radio Free Asia, Mr. Liem said that he was waiting to be arrested, but he would never give up his position that a religion must be independent from the state government. Recently he rejected an offer from Communist government giving him the seat of an advisor in the state-controlled Hoa Hao Church, an organization representing no one but a group of Communist party members of Hoa Hao origin.

He suggests that the government hold a general congress of the Hoa Hao Buddhists so that the people could express their will without interference from the Communist authorities.

Mr. Liem said that he is against those who are seeking violent means to overthrow the Communist regime. What the Vietnamese living abroad should be doing, he said, is to rely on intense non-violent struggles against the Communist regime with all efforts to draw strong international support. He concluded, "Do all you can because there is still hope."

At the same time, according to a source from Vietnam on August 28, Communist Public Security department of Long Xuyen province arrested Buddhist Monk Thich Hue Quang and Mr. Nguyen Van Dien, deputy chief of the Hoa Hao Buddhist (independent) Church board of managers. Communist authorities refused to say what he was charged with.

The source also predicted that the crackdown may incite Hoa Hao worshippers to violent protests.

In Quang Nam province, Communist Public Security officers barged into Phu Son Pagoda to break up a religious service. Four monks from a monastery in Hue, who were invited by the pagoda to preach to worshippers were sent back to Hue.

***

Meanwhile, the Communist government denied an exit permit to the Most Ven. Thich Thai Hoa of Phuoc Duyen Pagoda, Hue City, who was invited to attend the Millennium World Peace Summit held in New York City from 28 to 31 August. The letter of invitation was signed by the Secretary General of the summit, Mr. Bawa Jain.

Local authorities deliberately delayed delivering the letter for nearly a month. When the Ven. Thich Thai Hoa applied for exit permit, it was only 12 days before the summit was to begin.

He spent many days visiting one office after another to do the paperwork. He was told by every office that he should wait for the decision. He did not receive any word from the Communist authorities. So on August 25, he sent an email to Mr. Bawa Jain to inform him that he would not be allowed to leave for the New York summit. He also suggested that the Dalai Lama and the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do be invited. He introduced his representative in the U.S.A. to participate.

While denying the Most Ven. Thich Thai Hoa exit permit, Hanoi sent a ten-member delegation to attend the summit. The only delegations chosen by their government were China's and Vietnam's.

The Hanoi's delegation was nominally headed by the Most Ven. Thich Hien Phap, general secretary of the state-control Buddhist Church and the Most Rev. Nguyen Son Lam, secretary general of the Episcopal Council of the Vietnam Catholic Church. The real leader of the delegation must be someone else.

The Ven. Chan Phap An, who is in New York, delivered a speech as officially entrusted by and on behalf of Most Ven. Thich Thai Hoa. The speech, compiled by Ven. Thai Hoa, introduced the issue of building up the future human society according to Buddhist teachings and practical methods to reach the goal of such society where people could live in happiness, peace and stability. 

[[[[[

VIETNAM, NEWS ANALYSIS, SEPTEMBER 2, 2000.

 

 ===========================================

AROUND THE SEPTEMBER 2 CELEBRATION

nlnlnlnlnlnlnlnlnlnlnlnlnlnlnlnlnl

 

The September 2nd Anniversary commemorating the establishment of the Vietnam Communist regime under Ho Chi Minh in `1945, has been held every year since. This year, however, the Sept. 2 celebrations were prepared at a rather large scale. There are military review and parade with the participation of many state-controlled associations, party external organizations, groups of faithful Communist veterans and colorful floats.

That day fifty-five years ago, Ho Chi Minh declared the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the so-called Declaration of Independence, and introduced his Cabinet.

Two weeks before, on August 18, a spontaneous meeting and demonstration was held by the Association of Public Servants to support independence and democracy for Vietnam. A group of two dozen of Communist cadres took advantage of the occasion, seizing the microphone and the central stage, waving the yellow-star-on-red banner, leading the crowd of many thousand people to occupy key government offices.

The establishment of Ho Chi Minh government was immediately opposed by most of non-Communist revolutionary parties because Ho and his men broke the promise to act in concordance with the resolution made previously at an important meeting in China of the Viet Nam Cach Menh Dong Minh Hoi (VNCMDMH, or Vietnam Revolutionary League). The VNCMDMH consisted of all major anti-colonialism revolutionary parties including Ho's Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi (Viet Minh, or Vietnam Independence League).

According to the Resolution, all member associations would cooperate with each other and would follow the decision for a general uprising to be taken by the VNCMDMH standing committee. Ho was sent back to Vietnam as the league's envoy to observe the situation in the country and report his evaluation to the league headquarters in China for the decision.

The act of betrayal by Ho infuriated the nationalists, under whose pressure Ho had to form a coalition government in 1946. In Summer 1946, the Communists launched a brutal terrorist campaign to eliminate the opposition, killing thousands of nationalist activists along with skillful and forceful slanderous propaganda campaign against them. The victims included nearly half of the representatives of the Parliament in the non-communist bloc, and most of nationalist patriots and prospective non-communist leaders who had both virtue and talents.

The campaign lasted for years, successfully getting rid of key opponents. It led to the birth of the anti-Communist front of non-communist patriots who escaped the Viet Minh control to take shelter in the French occupied areas. It is believed that if Ho had sincerely cooperated with the nationalist side as his appeal for greater solidarity in Spring 1946, the war against French colonialism would have ended much earlier and Vietnam would not have suffered the bloody 1960-75 nationalism-communism war between the Soviet-China-backed North Vietnam and the American-backed South Vietnam.

The Sept. 2 celebration this year is one of the series of unusually pompous festivals, celebrations and conferences. They are scheduled with noticeable intentions to buoy up the spirit of the people and party members, who have long been downhearted because of Communist realities. A huge part of the national budget is spent for the events while millions of people are living in extreme poverty, and budgets for education and public health care are below 7 percent each.

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Besides, the Vietnam Communist Party (VCP) government announced that it would release 10,693 prisoners, among them 61 are foreigners including 4 Vietnamese Americans. As usual, VCP government did not release a list of prisoners to be set free, and its officials said that it has never held any political or religious prisoners, the reiteration of a Communist time-worn expression in the last 55 years.

Although the number of inmates being released is comparatively large, it is unknown how many prisoners are still in nearly a hundred prison camps at national , provincial and district levels. It is more difficult to estimate how many people who were and will be sent to prison to fill the vacant rooms left by the released inmates. The VCP regime is notorious of maintaining a pool of political and religious prisoners to have someone to release when it is necessary to do so to lessen international criticism of Hanoi's human rights record.

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The celebrations do not make VCP authorities hesitate to exert political security measures. State-controlled media in Hanoi reported that Mr. Le Quang Liem, a senior leader of the Hoa Hao Buddhist Church would be tried at a court in Saigon for the charge of "spying for foreign power." The evidence is mostly made up.

In a telephone interview with Radio Free Asia, Mr. Liem said that he was waiting to be arrested, but he would never give up his position that a religion must be independent from the state government. Recently he rejected an offer from Communist government giving him the seat of an advisor in the state-controlled Hoa Hao Church, an organization representing no one but a group of Communist party members of Hoa Hao origin.

He suggests that the government hold a general congress of the Hoa Hao Buddhists so that the people could express their will without interference from the Communist authorities.

Mr. Liem said that he is against those who are seeking violent means to overthrow the Communist regime. What the Vietnamese living abroad should be doing, he said, is to rely on intense non-violent struggles against the Communist regime with all efforts to draw strong international support. He concluded, "Do all you can because there is still hope."

At the same time, according to a source from Vietnam on August 28, Communist Public Security department of Long Xuyen province arrested Buddhist Monk Thich Hue Quang and Mr. Nguyen Van Dien, deputy chief of the Hoa Hao Buddhist (independent) Church board of managers. Communist authorities refused to say what he was charged with.

The source also predicted that the crackdown may incite Hoa Hao worshippers to violent protests.

In Quang Nam province, Communist Public Security officers barged into Phu Son Pagoda to break up a religious service. Four monks from a monastery in Hue, who were invited by the pagoda to preach to worshippers were sent back to Hue.

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Meanwhile, the Communist government denied an exit permit to the Most Ven. Thich Thai Hoa of Phuoc Duyen Pagoda, Hue City, who was invited to attend the Millennium World Peace Summit held in New York City from 28 to 31 August. The letter of invitation was signed by the Secretary General of the summit, Mr. Bawa Jain.

Local authorities deliberately delayed delivering the letter for nearly a month. When the Ven. Thich Thai Hoa applied for exit permit, it was only 12 days before the summit was to begin.

He spent many days visiting one office after another to do the paperwork. He was told by every office that he should wait for the decision. He did not receive any word from the Communist authorities. So on August 25, he sent an email to Mr. Bawa Jain to inform him that he would not be allowed to leave for the New York summit. He also suggested that the Dalai Lama and the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do be invited. He introduced his representative in the U.S.A. to participate.

While denying the Most Ven. Thich Thai Hoa exit permit, Hanoi sent a ten-member delegation to attend the summit. The only delegations chosen by their government were China's and Vietnam's.

The Hanoi's delegation was nominally headed by the Most Ven. Thich Hien Phap, general secretary of the state-control Buddhist Church and the Most Rev. Nguyen Son Lam, secretary general of the Episcopal Council of the Vietnam Catholic Church. The real leader of the delegation must be someone else.

The Ven. Chan Phap An, who is in New York, delivered a speech as officially entrusted by and on behalf of Most Ven. Thich Thai Hoa. The speech, compiled by Ven. Thai Hoa, introduced the issue of building up the future human society according to Buddhist teachings and practical methods to reach the goal of such society where people could live in happiness, peace and stability. 

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