Following is the report from UBCV Member Thich Thien Phuc, detailing police harassment against him on March 9, 2012.
Your Honor, The Most Senior Venerable, President of the UBCV’s Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma.
Your Honor, The Most Senior Venerable Chief Representative of the UBCV in Quang Nam – Danang – Chairman of the UBCV Youth Department.
I am Bhikkhu Thich Thien Phuc, Educational and Youth liason of the UBCV’s Board of Representatives in Quang Nam – Danang. I beg to report an incident on March 9, 2912 as follows:
This morning, at 9AM on March 9, 2012, I went to the office of the Board of Representatives, Giac Minh Temple, located at 7 Hoang Dieu, Hai Chau District, Danang City, to visit the Most Senior Venerable abbot. As I approached the temple’s gate, 2 plain clothed policemen chased me and yelled “Hey, hey” with the intention to ask me to stop and turn around, not entering the temple. However, I was already in the temple. I went inside and greeted the Most Senior Venerable Abbot. The Abbot and I were talking for about 10 minutes when the Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Dong Tam, the Abbot’s disciple, arrived. For almost an entire year, the temple has been completed isolated by a very powerful cadre of local government elements that include police, officials, people’s security, Youth Assaulting group, and even females of unclear ranking who sport both uniform and plain clothes. These government’s agents guard the temple extremely strictly; nobody can enter the temple, nor can anyone leave the temple. Buddhists, followers, and local people have always been blocked and turned away from entering the temple or to visit the Most Senior Venerables and monastic members of the temple. Therefore, the Bhikkhuni goes to the temple everyday to help cleanup and cook for the Most Senior Venerable.
After half and hour of conversation with the Most Senior Venerable, I bowed to him and left the temple. The Bhikkhuni Thich Dong Tam went with me to the temple’s gate. As soon as we reached the temple’s gate, dozens of people who had been sitting outside of the temple started to get up in a hurry; among them were uniformed and plain-clothed policemen.
Two uniformed policemen named Tran Anh Tuan and Mr. Long stopped my motorcycle and demanded me to show them my identification (ID – People’s Identification). This act of harassment has been taken against visitors of Giac Minh temple. I answered them “I am a monk, therefore going to the temple to pay respect to the Buddha and to visit the Abbot is a normal business that does not require me to show my ID. If you want me to show my ID, please create 2 copies of a document specifying all details, time, location, and reason for checking my ID. You keep one copy, I keep one. Then I will show you my ID. It is wrong for police, people’s security, and assaulting teams to guard the temple everyday and stop visitors from entering the temple or to check their ID’s, and taking down their license plate numbers.”
I asked “There are so many people around passing by, why don’t you check their ID’s instead of just targeting only me? Besides, if you want to check my ID you have to have specific documents instead of issuing orders by mouth. If you can give me a receipt clearly confirming the reason and methods of stopping me and checking my ID, I will show you my ID. If you want to confiscate my ID, I’d like to have a document as evidence so that in the future I come back to visit the temple I will have something to show you.”
The police insisted “This is a government’s order. We have the right to check ID of all citizens in our locality, therefore we ask that you show us your ID”.
I responded “That was your demand; where are my rights?”
At this point, a female official ordered the policeman named Tran Anh Tuan: “Issue a report that says this man is a citizen violating the laws, and he is not a monk. Or he is a fake monk.”
I replied “When has this government never recognized us as monks? If we are fake monks, then are the rest of monks in this city real?
When the Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Dong Tam used her phone to take pictures as evidence when Mr. Long, a local policeman ordered her to stop. After that, a number of people’s security and plain-clothed police kept hovering in front of Thich Nu Dong Tam to prevent her from taking pictures.
I asked Mr. Long “who is the person filming us from over there? How comes it is OK for your people to film us but not OK for us to take picture? Aren’t you being too autocratic? You are representatives of the law; why do you keep causing inconvenience and harassing people like this?”
The police were without a word. The policeman Tuan proceeded to issue a report. He asked my name, I responded “Thich Thien Phuc”. Tuan kept asking “This is your Dharma name. What is your secular name?”
I replied “We monastics only use Dharma names, not secular names. That’s all I can provide to you. Please do not ask for more.”
More and more police arrived, and they were constantly on the phone, probably asking for guidance from their superiors. At this time, the policeman Tran Anh Tuan said to me “If you don’t show us your ID, we will put down in the report that you violate article 12b of Decree 73”.
I said “Issuing a report is your right. The details of the report has to be clearly read to both sides before it can be signed. Each side keeps a copy as requested. However, my visiting the Temple to worship the Buddha does not violate any law, nor it is related at all to the above Decree.”
The report was created without being read or signed. The police all left. This was around 11AM, and I also went to my temple.
I beg to report the above incident so that the Most Senior Venerables President of the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma and Chief Representative of Quang Nam – Danang can understand.
May the Three Gems bless the two Most Senior Venerables good health in order to guide the ship of Righteous Dharma to overcome the waves of Dharma disasters and guide us in our vows to preserve Righteous Dharma.
Namo The Great Indestructible Diamond Bodhisattva
An Cu temple March 9, 2012
Bhikkhu Thich Thien Phuc