RFA: Greetings to The Most Venerable Thich Thanh Quang. It is known that you have alerted media outlets about Giac Minh temple being repressed, monks summoned to working sessions, and Buddhists forbidden to come to the temple in the past few days. Please let us know whether Giac Minh temple was allowed to celebrate Ullambana freely today?
Thich Thanh Quang: Greetings. The police have stationed heavily at all locations during this year’s Ullambana. Currently, police are still surrounding the temple’s gate. None of the followers is allowed to come to the temple to pay homage to the Buddha. Prior to August 7, the government installed 2 commanding stations on both ends of Giac Minh temple. Followers who have finished paying homage to Buddha and their ancestors were stopped right before leaving the temple and were taken by plain-clothed police to a police station next to the temple for interrogation. The police questioned why followers went to Giac Minh temple. When followers answered that their parents and ancestors alters were kept at this temple, police said “You have to take your parents and ancestors’ alters to another temple. If you come to this temple one more time, you will be arrested because this is a reactionary temple.” The police took down followers’ license plate numbers and identifications. After that, the police went to these followers’ families and declared that followers were forbidden from going to Giac Minh temple, Giac Minh temple are “reactionists”, illegal, and against the government. These official actions cause followers’ families nervous and worried. Everybody in the vicinity of Danang city knows well (about the government’s intimidation campaign) and is afraid.
There are followers who save money to buy fruits and flowers to donate to the temple. However, they are too scared they had to leave their donations at the temple’s gate at 5 o’clock in the morning.
Even 8PM today (Sunday August 14, 2011), some followers who brought milk to the temple to offer to their deceased ancestors were followed by police; these followers were so afraid they threw milk on the ground and ran away.
Binh Thuan Ward’s Radio station places loud speakers in front of the temple’s gate asking people in the 12th and 13th groups have to be on high alerts against Giac Minh temple’s illegal activities.
RFA: Vietnam’s Constitution recognizes freedom of religion. Would you please tell us the reasons for these repression and threats against you and Giac Minh temple’s monks?
Thich Thanh Quang: To the government’s Constitution, people with or without religions have freedom of religion.
The people who belong to the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) such as myself who became ordained at a temple, always practice to the path led by our teachers and patriarchs such as the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do and The Late Most Senior Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, as sentient beings are suffering, people becoming homeless, people have their lands taken away, and people getting killed by foreigners while working in the sea.
The UBCV under the supreme leadership of the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do has uncovered the dangers of the invasion and forcing Vietnamese to become slaves; he has called on the entire population to stand up together against foreign invasion, meaning against China’s expansionism. For that, the government accused the UBCV of being “reactionary” and “illegal”. Thus, we understand that due to her patriotism and love for her fellow countrymen, the UBCV has to be against foreign invasion. Therefore, the government has to eliminate the UBCV.
RFA: Thank you the Most Venerable Thich Thanh Quang