08/07/2012, 00.00
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Vietnamese police arrest "unofficial" Buddhist monks for giving food aid to veterans

Raid on the Lien Tri Pagoda, located in a Ho Chi Minh City suburb. Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (Cubv), not recognized by the government, targeted by authorities. A pastor beaten and interrogated. Two Catholic priests forced to delete photos of the violence.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The communist authorities have suspended the distribution of food and small gifts to veterans, sponsored by the monks of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (Cubv) to compensate for the lack of government welfare. Police yesterday raided the Lien Tri Pagoda during a meeting of religious leaders and war veterans, located in the suburb of Thu Duc, Ho Chi Minh City, belonging to the organization banned by Hanoi and often the victim of persecution. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA) the head of the monastery reports that the police have also beaten and then arrested a cleric.

More than 100 plainclothes agents surrounded the temple where the meeting was taking place, blocking the entrance. Several local Christian leaders had also joined the initiative, in fact a Protestant pastor was beaten by police and taken to the police station for questioning. Two Catholic priests were able to cross the threshold of Lien Tri Pagoda only after deleting the photos depicting the assault by Vietnamese security forces.

The leader of the Thich Khong Tanh monks and Lien Tri Pagoda have long been targeted by authorities for their refusal to join the official Buddhist Church of Vietnam, the only one recognized and accepted by the government.

The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (CUBV), not recognized by the government, was the main Buddhist organization in the southern and central Vietnam until 1975, when the government took over direct administration of all its property and institutions. In 1981, following its refusal to submit to the Communist Party, the government disbanded it and replaced it with the Buddhist Church of Vietnam, which is effectively controlled by the state, but the CUBV has never recognized the authority and has not stopped the his religious activity.

Since the 1990s, many monks were arrested, while the "Supreme Patriarch" Thich Huyen Quang - who died in July 2008 - was repeatedly threatened for his opposition to the government and spent long periods under house arrest at his pagoda.


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