Le Thi Kim Thu reporting from Ninh Thuan
On the morning of December 14, 2010, the Most Venerable Thích Không Tánh and members of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) delegation distributed 300 relief packages to victims of the tropical storm at Phuoc Khanh Commune, Hoai Trung Village and Hoai Trung Commune, Ninh Phuoc Village, Ninh Thuan City. Each relief package consisted of $150,00.00 VND, one box of noodles, cookies and candies for the children and elders.
When the relief delegation arrived at the distribution location, we realized that local folks were discussing boisterously with one another. Turned out, two days before that, the police at communes and villages in Ninh Thuan city had gone to each storm victim’s house and told them that the UBCV delegation was “a group of bandits” and people were not allowed to receive gifts. At the distribution location, there were so many uniformed and undercover police; local people vigorously protested the police who were wearing raincoats with the 4 letters CAND (People’s Police) written in the back.
The police jotted down names of the people who came to receive relief packages. However, the spirit of local people as well as that of Pastor Luu Van Huy and his wife – Bui Thi Ut, was very brave. Sister Ut was denouncing police’s crimes to the reporter’s camera; as she was accusing the police, she was dragged away from the camera by a policeman. She asked if the man was a communist police and why they blocked her and Pastor Luu from providing relief to the poor villagers.
Outside the distribution location, young people and passersby stopped to cheer the Venerables giving gifts to the poor. There were women who were protesting (the police) with tears streaming down their faces because they were afraid the delegation would leave under police pressure. However, the Most Venerable Thích Không Tánh and Venerable Thích Nguyên Lý assured local villagers: “Don’t worry, we will hand out all relief packages to the villagers at any cost.” Simultaneously, the villagers said “Masters, please give them to us poor villagers. The police wanted to take the packages to the Committee’s Office so they can give them to their families and relatives. (If that is the case) We people will not get anything, dear Masters!”