(HANOI, Vietnam) — Thich Quang Do, a Buddhist monk who grew to become the general public face of spiritual dissent in Vietnam whereas the Communist authorities stored him in jail or beneath home arrest for greater than 20 years, has died at age 91.
Do, who died Saturday in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, was the very best chief of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, which has consistently tangled with the federal government over points of spiritual freedom and human rights.
He suffered for a few years from diabetes, a coronary heart situation and hypertension, stated the Worldwide Buddhist Data Bureau in Paris, which speaks for the outlawed church and introduced the loss of life.
Do was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and obtained a number of awards for his activism, together with the Rafto Prize for Human Rights and the Hellman/Hammett award, which the New York-based group Human Rights Watch offers to writers for braveness within the face of political persecution.
“Persons are very afraid of the federal government … Solely I dare to say what I wish to say. That’s the reason they’re afraid of me,” Do advised The Related Press in a uncommon 2003 interview.
At the same time as Vietnam has embraced financial liberalization and free markets, its political system stays firmly beneath the management of the Communist authorities.
Do stated that freedom, democracy and human rights “are extra vital than financial improvement” and with out them “we can not make any progress in the actual sense.”
He had been beneath near-constant surveillance for years at his residence in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery, the place in response to his supporters he organized microcredit packages and flood reduction campaigns whereas coordinating provincial committees of his outlawed church.
Based on the Worldwide Buddhist Data Bureau, he had been disadvantaged of all technique of speaking independently for the previous yr after he moved to the town’s Tu Hieu Pagoda, after being despatched out of Thanh Minh Zen Monastery and briefly residing in northern Vietnam.
“The individuals who taken care of him confiscated his cellphone and prevented his private assistant from visiting him,” the Paris-based assist group stated in an e-mail.
Buddhism is the first faith amongst fast-growing Vietnam’s 98 million individuals, though there are additionally hundreds of thousands of Christians. The federal government has turn into extra tolerant of public worship in recent times, however permits solely a handful of formally authorized spiritual teams.
Do was born Dang Phuc Tue in northern Thai Binh province on Nov. 27, 1928. His defiance of repressive governments predates the 1975 Communist takeover of U.S.-backed South Vietnam and the previous Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh Metropolis. He was first imprisoned in 1963 beneath Catholic chief Ngo Dinh Diem, and after Vietnam was reunified he protested towards its ruling Communists.
After his 1977 arrest on prices of “undermining nationwide solidarity” and conducting “anti-revolutionary actions,” Do endured almost two years of solitary confinement in a roughly three-by-six-foot jail cell, gazing via a window the dimensions of his hand till worldwide strain pressured his launch, his supporters say.
In 1981, the federal government created the Communist Get together-controlled Vietnam Buddhist Church and compelled Do into inside exile in northern Thai Binh province. Do was later supplied the management of the official church, his supporters say, however he refused and in 1992 fled to Ho Chi Minh Metropolis.
In 1995, he was sentenced to 5 years in jail on prices that included sending two faxes to abroad Buddhists accusing the federal government of obstructing a church-sponsored flood reduction mission. Worldwide strain led to his early launch in 1998, however he was once more positioned beneath home arrest in 2001.
Though Do was formally freed two years later, a 2005 report by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention cited an unnamed supply as saying restrictions on Do have been “equal to detention.”
Over time Vietnam denied accusations that it positioned Do and a former chief of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, the late Thich Huyen Quang, beneath home arrest. They “lead regular lives” at their respective monasteries, Overseas Ministry spokesman Le Dung stated in 2005.
The USA Fee on Worldwide Spiritual Freedom, an impartial group established by the U.S. Congress, known as Do’s loss of life “an unbelievable loss for the individuals of Vietnam.”
“Along with his quiet energy and beauty, he fought for many years to protect and promote spiritual freedom in Vietnam,” Commissioner Anurima Bhargava stated in a press release issued by the group.