October 29, 2009

An Opportunity to Lead

The Wall Street Journal hosts an opinion piece by Thich Chan Phap Dung on the situation of monks and nuns at Bat Nha monastery in Vietnam.
The government of Vietnam now must respond. Will it disband a peaceful Buddhist organization, or move to fully protect religious freedom as required by international covenants and treaties to which Vietnam is a party, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and as Vietnamese citizens demand? Vietnam is currently serving as president of the U.N. Security Council and chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2010. There is no better time to show the world its leadership on these important issues of human rights.

The monks and nuns still wish to return home to Bat Nha monastery. If this is not possible, the government, through its established Buddhist church, could at least reaffirm the monks’ and nuns’ legal right to practice together as a religious community at another location. These young monks and nuns want nothing more than to serve their country and humanity and are fine examples of the true beauty and determined spirit of the Vietnamese people.
Thay Dung provides some context on the situation that I hadn’t seen elsewhere (such as Hoang Hung’s petition, also in English). Hopefully this piece on the WSJ will spark enough interest to pressure Hanoi to finally fulfill its self-proclaimed commitments to religious freedom.

2 comments :

  1. I ask out of interest: Do I understand the WSJ author's statement correctly, that the Vietnam state has a state-established Buddhist church, or something similar? In my opinion, he seems to indicate as much, in the second paragraph of the excerpt you quote, but of course this question is developed without direct reference on the matter. I mean, I've never thought of Buddhism as being a particularly statist religion, and I'm intrigued about this matter that I have been unfamiliar with.

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  2. Yes. The Buddhist Church of Vietnam is a relatively recent state-sanctioned organization—the structure, history and context behind it are far more than I am willing to describe here (although I would like to, had I more time). I encourage you to research more on the history and context of Vietnamese Buddhism, which is organizationally far more diverse than any of the major Buddhist blogs (including this one!) seem to convey.

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