VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT COMMITTED RELIGIOUS REPRESSION AGAINST GIAC MINH TEMPLE IN DANANG CITY

Authors

The Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma, The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (The Institute) has sent the International Buddhist Information Bureau an emergency news release about Vietnamese police repressing, harassing, and intimidating monks and lay Buddhists at Giac Minh temple in the wake of Ullambana Celebration on Sunday August 14, 2011.

Giac Minh Temple is the headquarter of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam’s Representative in Quang Nam – Danang, and is The Institute’s Youth Department. The Most Venerable Thich Thanh Quang is the UBCV’s Chief Representative in Quang Nam – Danang and Head of the Youth Department. The Most Venerable is also Abbott of Giac Minh temple, the frontier of the Vietnamese government suppression in Central Vietnam.

In Buddhist tradition, Ullambana is the Ceremony to show piety to parents in many lives. Ullambana is also the day of pardoning for the deceased which Vietnamese have held since the ancient time. However, the government of Vietnam, through the hands of police, forbid monks and lay Buddhists to organize Ullambana at Giac Minh temple to show gratitude towards parents and ancestors like Vietnamese have done over the last many centuries.

According to Emergency Report Number 1 by the Most Venerable Thich Thanh Quang, this year’s harassment, repression, and intimidation aimed to block Monks and lay Buddhists to come to Giac Minh temple on Ullambana Celebration on Sunday, August 14, 2011. The repression and harassment took place through the following 5 steps:

  1. On August 2, 2011, employing the organization of Semi-Final Conference for the first 6 months of 2011, Mr. Huynh Tan Phong, Leader of Binh Hien Ward, Hai Chau District, Danang city, issued a summon for all monks and apprentices at Giac Minh temple. However when everybody got to the location, the officials turned the Conference into a public denouncement against Giac Minh temple, accusing members of the temple of “being reactionists, engaging in political activities against the government” … and order all monks from Giac Minh temple to leave the temple. If the order was not carried out, the government would have actions against the temple.
  2. The next day, August 3, 2011, the government called for a meeting to spread propaganda and to slander against Giac Minh temple “engaging in political activities against the government”. The government ordered lay Buddhists not to come to Giac Minh temple. Those who have ashes of deceased family members at Giac Minh temple had to move to other temples in the city. The government told Buddhists that it would help move the ashes from Giac Minh temple.
  3. Starting from August 9, 2011, the government started the harassment, pressuring Buddhists against going to Giac Minh temple. Traffic police, local police, security, strike forces guarded 24/7 at all directions to the temple. The government placed video recorders at its headquarter across from the temple and recorded vehicle registration plate numbers of Buddhists who were coming and leaving the temple. All Buddhists going to the temple to donate or pay homage to their deceased family members were taken to the government headquarter for interrogation, harassment, and propaganda against the temple. The government threatened these Buddhists not to go to Giac Minh temple or donate fruits or flowers to the temple, or else the government would not tolerate.When Buddhists asked why they were forbidden from going to Giac Minh temple, the officials responded “This is an order from superiors that we have to carry out”.
  4. All Youth Buddhist Family organization members in the city and suburb were summoned to “working sessions” and had to endure government officials slander, falsely accuse leaders of the UBCV and monks at Giac Minh temple. This campaign of division aims to prevent members the Youth Buddhist Family from participating in UBCV’s activities.Additionally, Bhikkhu Thich Thien Phuc’c An Cu temple were also under constant siege by police since August 4, 2011. The purpose of this plan is to prevent Buddhists from visiting the Bhikkhu Thich Thien Phuc during Ullambana Season.
  5. On August 10, 2011. the communist government and Danang city’s Religious Department sent letters to all temples in the city, encouraging the monks and nuns in the government’s Buddhist Church to organize a public denouncement against Giac Minh temple and to slander and falsely accuse leaders of the UBCV, and to denounce senior leaders of the UBCV’s Youth Buddhist Family organization. The purpose of this campaign is to “create” what is called “unification of Government Buddhist church” against the presence of the UBCV in people’s mind and the UBCV’s Youth Buddhist Family organization.

Under police intimidation and threats, Buddhists had to secretly leave donation at Giac Minh temple's gate, at night, to be picked up by the temple's monks in the morning