Banned Vietnamese Buddhist Group's Pagoda Blockaded

Radio Free Asia, May 7, 2013

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam -- Security forces in southern Vietnam surrounded the pagoda of a banned Buddhist group over the weekend and barred monks from leaving the monastery, in the latest crackdown on the group in the one-party communist state.

<< A file photo of Thich Quang Do at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Ho Chi Minh City.

The blockade of the Giac Hoa Pagoda belonging to the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) in Ho Chi Minh City came as activists gathered in parks in cities across the country to stage “picnic” demonstrations calling for protection of human rights.

Some 50 security personnel including police and plainclothes agents surrounded the pagoda on Sunday, the Paris-based UBCV-affiliated International Buddhist Information Bureau rights group said in a statement Tuesday.

That morning, the head of the pagoda Thich Vien Hy and UBCV deputy leader Thich Vien Dinh were pushed back inside by a “gang” of plainclothes agents who surrounded their car when they tried to leave the monastery, IBIB said.

The two were going to another monastery to visit UBCV patriarch Thich Quang Do, who has called on followers to support public protests in Vietnam’s cities in recent years.

Security agents refused to provide a police warrant or explanation for why the monks were not allowed to leave, except to say they had “orders from above.”

Other monks were also barred from leaving the monastery to conduct prayers or funeral services for local Buddhists. 

The IBIB did not say whether the siege of the pagoda has ended.

According to the IBIB, police have regularly “systematically blockaded” various UBCV pagodas around on weekends since July last year, when Thich Quang Do called on followers to support a series of weekend anti-China rallies led by activists across the country.

Public protests are rarely allowed in Vietnam, and the recurring rallies calling for Hanoi to take a stronger stance against Beijing over territorial disputes in the South China Sea were at first allowed to go ahead but eventually faced stricter controls.

Unsanctioned religious groups face strict controls in Vietnam, religious activity is monitored and groups must be supervised by government-controlled management boards.

‘Picnic for human rights’

This past weekend, in an ingenious move, activists organized protest “picnics” in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Nha Trang in the hope that the gatherings will not be shut down like the anti-China rallies.

But police dispersed the gatherings.

In Ho Chi Minh City, three activists were briefly arrested after they handed out copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

Blogger Nguyen Hoang Vi, who had helped organize the Ho Chi Minh City gathering in the April 30th park, said she was held until late Monday and suffered beatings by police.

“When I went to the picnic spot, police arrested me and sent me to Phu Thanh police station,” she told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

When she went back to the police station with her mother after her release to get her belongings, police beat her and puller her mother’s hair violently, she said.

“When my mom told them off, they started to beat me. They grabbed my mom’s head and dragged her out,” she said.

Fellow blogger Vu Quoc Anh was beaten after he confronted people in the park who were using hoses to douse picnickers with water to disperse the gathering and was taken to the police station until Sunday night.

“When I did not cooperate with them, they slapped me, on my head and neck,” he told RFA.

Activist Hanh Nhan was also briefly detained.

An announcement about the May 5 picnic protests circulated online on April 30, the anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, calling for people to gather in the parks to discuss human rights with the aim of “contributing to a beautiful society.”

“What needs to be done to improve the human rights situation in Vietnam so that Vietnam will become a strong country with a prosperous people and a just, democratic, and civilized society?” it said.


Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: