It appears the “Buddhist world” is getting behind the Thich Nhat Hanh followers without question. There are however, a lot of questions: It is obvious that the Thich Nhat Hanh people have a well-oiled propaganda machine going. The http://helpbatnha.org/ site purported to represent the monastery only represents the voice of the Thich Nhat Hanh clergy at the Bat Nha Monastery. The site is registered to Deer Park Monastery, Thich Nhat Hanh’s facility in Escondido, California. Is it possible that this perhaps inflames the local residents who may feel that the Thich Nhat Hanh followers had taken over their temple?
Cracking down on Thich Nhat Hanh and his followers might just prove that his work for human rights and community development is proving too successful for the Communist party to tolerate. If the monks and nuns who look to Thich Nhat Hanh as their leader are being beaten and humiliated by police and mobs, does it make sense to blame them rather than see them as victims whose human rights are being violated? Perhaps the rulers of Vietnam regret loosening the rules and allowing Thich Nhat Hanh to return at all. Perhaps they just want to reassert their control and remind everyone who is really the boss.
The discussion over the situation at tu vien Bat Nha involves local, national and global issues and relationships. I am personally most concerned with the individual rights of monks and nuns. I’m much less concerned about the political exchanges between Thich Nhat Hanh and the Vietnamese authorities. But I need to have a grasp of both situations (and more) to have a better understanding of what exactly is going on at this monastery in central Vietnam—especially if I’m only reading news reports in English.