10/10/2018, 09.40
VIETNAM
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91-year-old patriarch of the unified Buddhist Church expelled from the monastery

His presence had become "a distraction from everyday activities". Thich Quang Do was under house arrest since 2003 for his commitment to religious freedom and democracy. The elderly monk has returned to his remote province of origin.

Hanoi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The authorities of Thanh Minh Zen monastery in Ho Chi Minh City have expelled Thich Quang Do, a well-known human rights activist and supreme patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (Ubcv). As a result of his commitment to religious freedom and democracy, 91-year-old Thich Quang Do was under house arrest since 2003 and subject to strict regime surveillance.

The International Buddhist Information Bureau (Ibib) states that last September 15 Thích Thanh Minh, abbot of the monastery, removed the patriarch from the structure, since his presence had become "a distraction from daily activities". The Vietnamese government, which does not recognize and prosecutes the UVC, has attempted in the last two years to transfer the activist monk, who had promised to remain unless requested to leave by the abbot.

Once the order was received, the patriarch left by Thanh Minh Zen, passing from one city pagoda to another, without any agreement for a long-term stay. Later, he boarded a train to his province of origin: Thai Binh, in the north of the country. The Ibib states that the life of Thich Quang Do within the monastery was "just like a prison". The Buddhist organization expresses concern that in the remote northern province the elderly patriarch will have limited access to communications, health care and visits by UBCV followers.

The unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, which claims to still collect the majority of the Vietnamese population, was outlawed in 1981, following its refusal to submit to the Communist Party. The government replaced it with the Vietnamese Buddhist Church, without however achieving a cessation of "unified" religious activity. Its greatest exponents, such as Thich Quang Do, were repeatedly arrested and released.

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