Vietnamese Government Abuses Religious Freedom in Central Vietnam

· Translated News

Anh Vu

Vietnamese government has increased its campaign of repression against members of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), according to the Chief Representative of the UBCV in Hue.

According to the Conference Summary, signed on November 9, 2010 by the Most Venerable Thich Thien Hanh, Chief Representative of the UBCV Representative Committee in Hue, the situation of repression and terrorization against the UBCV in cities and provinces in Central Vietnam can be detailed as follows:

  1. Quang Nam Da Nang:

The government overstepped religious belief and traditional Vietnamese morality by ordering hundreds of police, authorities and security personnel to harass Giac Minh Temple (K256/42 Hoang Dieu Street, Danang) on the eve of Vesak, one of the most important days in Buddhism that became a Vietnamese tradition in the season of Pity.

On Vesak Day, the 15th of July, lunar Calendar, the police and local authorities besieged Giac Minh Temple, forbidding anyone from leaving or entering the temple. Those who came to the temple’s aid were treated like animals: they were severely beaten, handcuffed, dragged and tossed into waiting police cars.

  1. Quang Tri

The Venerable Thích Từ Giáo, Chief Representative of the UBCV in Quang Tri has reported constant harassment by the police and local authorities. Authorities used force to seize the temple’s properties and confiscate the temple’s land to build a wall.

  1. Thua Thien, Hue
    1. Phuoc Thanh Temple (360 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hue city):

“The temple is in danger of collapsing and causing fatal injuries to the monks and followers. The abbot of the temple applied for a permit to rebuild the main praying hall. Not only has the government ignored the application for a permit to rebuild the temple, it also has organized numerous attacks against Monks and Nuns and terrorize workers at the temple, forcing them to stop the construction. Too many times, the government has mobilized police, local authorities and security personnel broke into the temple, robbed the temple of building materials, and yanked equipment from workers working in the temple.”

    1. Mai Vinh Praying Hall (Mai Vinh commune, Vinh Xuan village, Phu Vang county)

“Nine years ago, the government confiscated 1085 square meter (11,679 sq feet) and sold it to private buyers. Despite hundreds of letters of appeal from the temple’s representatives, the government continued to ignore their cries for help. On the contrary, police, local authorities and security personnel collaborated with the Nationalized Buddhist Church in campaigning to eradicate the temple. First, they kidnapped the President of the Temple’s Board of Director, Mr. Hoat To; no-one has heard from him ever since. After that, they installed a new Board of Director to render the current Board of Directors powerless.

Next, police and authorities were mobilized to the temple to cut down trees, destroy the fence, lock the doors, and prohibit Buddhists from worshiping in the temple.

The police also ordered security personnel to stand guard at the temple everyday; these security personnel killed and ate chicken and ducks right in front of the sacred place. People who tried to come to the temple to pray were beaten, detained, and taken to police station for questioning.  

    1. Kim Quang Temple (18 Duy Tan Street, Hue city)

“After 1975, local government in Thua Thien and An cuu district seized 49 out of 50 acres of land that belonged to the temple. Kim Quang temple is currently located on the remaining acre of land.

After 150 years, the temple has degraded severely. The abbot and management of the temple decided to rebuild the temple so that the monks could have a safe place to practice dharma.  However, the government has slandered, distorted, repressed, and destroyed construction equipment, terrorized workers, and insulted the monks, causing a chaos never witnessed at such a sacred place as a temple.

The situation at Kim Quang temple remained tense and violent, specifically on October 20. 2010, the People’s Committee of Hue demanded to fine the temple for rebuilding.