Vietnam Review – Speaking from house arrest at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon, a prominent dissident and church leader discussed the situation in Vietnam with Al Jazeera. This is the first time deputy leader of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, 80, has been filmed for TV in over 25 years spent under detention in Vietnam.
Al Jazeera broadcast the interview along with video tapes smuggled from Vietnam to the International Buddhist Information Bureau in Paris, in which Thich Quang Do launched an appeal for democracy in Vietnam. In an article featured on their website, Al Jazerra said Thich Quang Do’s statements revealed “a life of political repression and misery not found in the glossy tourist brochures luring visitors to Vietnam.”
The article cited the following excerpts from Thich Quang Do’s remarks:“In Vietnam today we are not free. We are prisoners in our own country … Prisoners of a regime which decides who has the right to speak, and who must keep silent…I have been continuously repressed right from 1975 by the Communist regime. For me, I’m not afraid of anything, of anything, because I am struggling for the right cause. For the truth…Only economically speaking [are things] any better. But politically speaking, nothing changes.
“We must have pluralism, the right to hold free elections, and to choose our own political system…To enjoy democratic freedoms. In brief, the right to shape our own future, to shape the destiny of our nation. For the last 32 years we always speak out to the outside world. And we hope like you … that you foreigners listen to our cry.”