CORDONING OF TEMPLES, BANNING CELEBRATIONS, PROHIBITING FAMILIES FROM RECEIVING ASHES OF DECEASED RELATIVES – NEW OPPRESSION METHODS FROM THE COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT AGAINST GIAC MINH TEMPLE IN DANANG AND BUU DUC PRAYING HALL IN DONG NAI PROVINCE.
Paris, January 27, 2012 (International Buddhist Information Bureau) – Throughout last year, Giac Minh temple in Danang was cordoned off 24/7 by police who blocked Buddhists from entering the temple to worship the Buddha, and prohibited the temple from celebrating Lunar New Year, Vesak, and Ullambana. Giac Minh temple is led by the Most Venerable Thich Thanh Quang, and is the office of the UBCV Board of Representatives in Quang Nam – Danang, Youth Department and Youth Buddhist Family.
The Most Venerable Thich Thanh Quang is the current General Secretary of the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma and Chief Representative of the UBCV in Quang Nam – Danang. In a report sent to the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma, the Most Venerable talked about the oppressive reality facing the temple through the following four incidents:
- Police (uniformed and plain clothed) and people’s security office regularly guarded the temple’s gate
- Anyone who tried to enter the temple was immediately dragged outside by the police. After being dragged outside, Buddhist followers were taken to the office of the People’s Security located right in front of the temple where they were threatened and forced to sign a contract affirming that they absolutely would not go to Giac Minh Temple as it was a location of anti-revolutionists. If anyone disobeyed the order they would be sent to their local government for punishment. A number of Buddhists protested and refused to sign the contract, as according to these Buddhists, if they were prohibited from entering the temple, they had a right to go home since there was no law that forced them to sign forementioned contract.
- It was most painful for deceased people whose ashes were kept at the temple, as their family members were not even allowed to come to the temple to pay respect on their death anniversaries.
- The government is waging a financial isolation against the temple by prosecuting Buddhist followers who donate rice to the temple. Those who were able to enter the temple were chased down by police and ordered to take back the rice to their homes.
Even during the last New Year’s Eve, Buddhists who went to the temple according to age-old tradition were blocked. Normally when Buddhists protested and asked the reasons for the prohibition, the police had only one answer “Giac Minh Temple is a temple of anti-revolutionists, an illegal temple, and a temple that is against the government.” However, when Buddhist pressed “Is there any document from the government that proclaims the disbanding of the UBCV or declares that the UBCV is illegal?”, the police became tongue-tied and could not answer.
Thus, the previous strategy of violent oppression has been altered to cope with international pressure that denounces Hanoi’s violation of human rights and oppression of religions. Instead of mobilizing police to temples to cause clashes, to make arrests, and to assault, the Vietnamese government turns to sieging of temples, prohiting Buddhist from entering the temples, and to ban temples from organizing New Year, Vesak, and Ullambana. Additionally, the government strikes against the national practice of worshipping ancestors. Temples are places Buddhist keep names and ashes of deceased loved onces. Now, police and People’s Neighborhood Committee demand those who have names and ashes of their loved ones at Giac Minh Temple to move to other temples in the city. If anyone is unable to do as urged, the government will help send to government’s temples.
By employing prohibitive approaches, the communist government pushes temples that belong to the UBCV to function as per the formular of the government’s Buddhist church that was installed in 1981 by the communist Party. This is identical to the analysis of Mr. Do Trung Hieu, the architect of the Government’s Buddhist church according to the order from the Central Communist Party. In a self-repentant document written in 1994 titled “Unifying Vietnamese Buddhism”, Mr. Hieu revealed:
“The content of the (unification) proposal is to completely turn Vietnamese Buddhism into a public association (i.e., going back to Decree No. 10 under French colonial rule – IBIB sidenode) that is even less important than an association because there are monks and nun but no Buddhists; there is only a parent organization without sub-organization, called Vietnam Buddhist Association (…) principal function is to organize worshipping in the temples without having any activity related to the public and society (…) Use temples for the foundation instead of using the Buddhist public as units of the Church organization. (View Mr. Do Trung Hieu’s entire document “Unifying Buddhism” at Que Me’s website www.queme.net).
Incidents at Giac Minh Temple in Danang are also happening at all UBCV temples nationwide, only differing in the levels of intensification while employing the same new approach with three methods:
- Cordoning of the temples and prohibiting religious activities;
- Banning celebrations of major Buddhist events to sever the ties between the Buddhist public and monks and nuns;
- Violating Vietnamese’s Filial spirit expressed through the honoring of ancestors when the government forbids Buddhist followers from keeping ashes and names of their deceased loved ones at temples that belong to the UBCV
What happened to Giac Minh temple as listed above has also been applied to Buu Duc Praying Hall at Hoa binh village, Bao Hoa commune, Xuan Loc District, Dong Nai Province.
According to the report by the Venerable Thich Vien Duc, Deputy Chief Representative of the UBCV in Dong Nai province and Special Member of Social Charity, sent to the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma, after numerous forced “working sessions”, the People’s committee of Bao Hoa commune, Xuan Loc District declared and prohibited:
- Buu Duc Praying hall illegally functions
- Buu Duc Praying hall is banned from displaying names or accepting ashes from Buddhist followers
- Buu Duc Praying Hall is not allowed religious activities
Related to Giac Minh temple in Danang, there was an incident happened almost 2 weeks ago. On January 15, 2012, Elder Brother Le Cong Cau, Head of the Youth Buddhist Family Department, went to see The Most Venerable Thich Thanh Quang to discuss Buddhist activities in 2012 for the Youth Buddhist Family. However, that meeting was interrupted by police who demanded to check for ID and wanted to arrest Brother Le for “working sessions”.
Therefore, Elder Brother Le Cong Cau has written a Year End’s Letter sent to the government of Danang city.