05/05/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Police attack pagoda of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam

The authorities want to take away the building in view of the international celebration of Vesak, the main Buddhist feast, which this year will be hosted in the country.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, which is outlawed by the government, has denounced the violations on the part of the authorities of the pagoda in Giac Hai, in the southern province of Lam Dong, and the long interrogation of two monks.

According to the Unified Buddhist Church, the police and government officials commandeered the pagoda for the purpose of using it for the international celebration of Vesak, the feast that celebrates the birth of Buddha, which this year - from May 13-17 - will be hosted for the first time in Vietnam, and which is expected to see the presence of up to 100 delegations.

The police, according to complaints from the Buddhists, has accused two of the monks present of belonging to an "illegal organisation", of participating in "political activities", and of "disturbing the public order": the two religious were detained for three hours.

The Unified Buddhist Church, which claims to represent the majority of the Vietnamese population, was banned in 1981, following its refusal to submit to the communist party.  The government replaced it with the Vietnamese Buddhist Church, but without succeeding in stopping the "unifieds" from carrying out religious activities.  The Church's leading representatives, like Thich Quang Do, aged 78, have been repeatedly arrested and released.

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