Little Saigon, September 11, 2016
Many Human Rights and Community Organizations Raised Concerns over Vietnamese Communist Authorities' Take-over of the Lien Tri Buddhist Temple
In the morning of September 8, 2016, Vietnamese Communist authorities have assembled a group of about 500 security police and officials from various branches of the government to attack and take over the Lien Tri Temple, located in An Khanh Ward, Second District, Saigon. This is a temple belonging to the the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (not sanctioned by the State), and it has existed for over 70 years. This temple is known to be not just a place of worship but also a starting point for nourishing social activities for poor people, for those who are left out by society, those who are abandoned by the government, and those who are treated unfairly.
On the pretext of clearing out the land for development of the Thu Thiem District, the Vietnamese Communist Government took over the Lien Tri Buddhist Temple in order to stop all religious activities in general and to erase all signs of the the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam’s existence in particular. However, Most Venerable Thich Khong Tanh has patiently protested against this plan and stood firm to provide religious services to people in the area. Many representatives of foreign embassies as well as elected officials of democratic countries have come to express their support of the residing monk and his Buddhist followers.
To the Lien Tri Temple, the blatant take-over and destruction of a place of worship that the Vietnamese Communists are carrying out with respect to the Lien Tri Buddhist Temple is a flagrant violation of religious freedom that the Vietnamese Communist regime has committed to respect. Many religious, human rights advocacy, and community organizations have protested against the Vietnamese Communists' brutal actions, and expressed their solidarity with Most Venerable Thich Khong Tanh and members of the Lien Tri Buddhist Temple through the attached statement.
Statement on The Forced Seizure of Lien Tri Pagoda In Saigon
On September 8, at 7:00 am, hundreds of policemen seized Lien Tri Pagoda and forced all the Buddhist monks to leave the pagoda. Venerable Thich Khong Tanh strongly protested in vain, fell down unconsciously and was brought to the hospital by the police.
For many years, the Communist authority had planned to destroy the pagoda many times but they always faced strong protest by Venerable Thich Khong Tanh and the Buddhists because Lien Tri Pagoda has been a center for spiritual, educational and social activities for more than half a century.
Many democratic governments such as the USA, Canada, Australia, France, Germany and the EU have raised their voices against the plan to destroy the Pagoda. Many Congressmen, representatives, diplomats of those governments have also come to visit the Pagoda to show their support for the Pagoda. However, the Communist authority had used force to seize and destroy the Pagoda in despite of the Buddhists’ protest and of international concerns.
Against this brutal violation of freedom of religion, we, the undersigned social, religious, human rights and community organizations of the Vietnamese inside and outside Vietnam issue this Statement
1. to strongly protest against the brutal violation of freedom of religion by the Communist government in Vietnam;
2. to demand the Communist authority to return back what they have taken and to pay for all the damage they have caused to Venerable Thich Khong Tanh and the Buddhists;
3. to urge the United Nations and the democratic governments to condemn the government of Vietnam for their violation of the International Bill of Human Rights which they have signed and pledged to obey;
4. to call upon the US government to put Vietnam back to the CPC (Countries of Particular Concern) list for their violation of freedom of religion;
5. to call upon the Vietnamese communities around the world to organize demonstrations, especially in front of the Embassies of Vietnam, to protest against the violation of freedom of religion by the Communist government in Vietnam.
The 11th of September 2016
- Brotherhood For Democracy, Mr. Pham Van Troi, President
- Citizens for Right to Life Association, Ms. Ho Thi Bich Khuong, Representative
- Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience, Dr Nguyen Dan Que and Fr. Phan Van Loi, Co-Chairs
- Bloc 8406 Vietnam, Fr. Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly & Mr. Do Nam Hai, Representatives
- The Nguyen Kim Dien Priests Group, Fr. Nguyen Huu Giai, Representative
In other countries
- Buddhist Association Khanh-Anh, Venerable Thich Quang Dao, Abbot of Khanh Anh Temple
- Federation of Vietnamese American Communities of the USA, Vo Dinh Huu, M.D., President of Board of Directors
- Community of Free Vietnamese in France, Phan Khac Tuong, M.D., Chairman.
- Vietnamese Canadian Community of Ottawa (VCCO), Ms. Nguyen Thi Ha Quyen, President
- Vietnamese Community in Australia, Mr. Nguyen Van Bon, President
- The Vietnamese Canadian Community in Greater Vancouver Society, Mr. Mai Phu Hung, President
- Vietnamese Community of Washington DC - Maryland & Virginia, Mr. Doan Huu Dinh, President
- Hoa Hao Buddhist Association of South California, USA, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Giau President
- Vietnam Democratic Assembly, Mr. Lam Dang Chau, Head of the Coordinating Committee
- The Vietnamese Interfaith Council In U.S.A., Most Venerable Thich Minh Nguyen, President
- Vietnamese Lawyers Association in California, USA, Nam Thi Hong Van, Esq., President
- Association France-Vietnam d'Entraide (AFVE), Mr. Bui Xuan Quang, President
- Association Amicale France Asie AFA, Nguyen Quoc Nam, Pharm.D., President
- Bloc 8406 Overseas in USA, Mr. Vu Hoang Hai and Mr. Nguyen Phu, Representatives
- Bloc 8406 Overseas in Australia, Mr. Le Kim Song, Representative
- The Inter-Associations of Vietnamese Refugees of Republic of Germany, Hoang Thi My Lam, M.D., Chairwoman
- Vietnam Human Rights Network, Nguyen Ba Tung, DPA, Coordinator
- Natinonal Congress of Vietnamese Americans (NCVA), Nguyen Mau Trinh, Pharm.D., President
- Movement of the Vietnamese Laity in the Diaspora, Pham Hong Lam, Coordinator
- The Overseas Vietnamese Unified Buddhist Sangha, The Most Venerable Thich Vien Ly, President
- Rallying For Democracy, Nguyen Quoc Quan, M.D., Representative
- Vietnam - Canadian Youth for Human Rights in Vietnam (CYHRV), Ms. Nguyen Khue Tu, Representative
- Human Rights Relief Foundation - Australia, Mr. Dang Trung Chinh, President