The Most Venerable Thich Quang Do
Detained Since: October 8, 2003.
Charges: No formal charges, but was accused of "possessing state secrets."
Sentence: No official sentence.
Biography: The Most Venerable Thich Quang Do is Fifth Supreme Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV). The Patriarch has been jailed numerous times for leading non-violent protests against the Vietnamese government and calling for religious freedom and democracy in Vietnam. After the Fall of Saigon in April 1975, the Communist government of Vietnam outlawed the UBCV, banned its religious activities, and confiscated many of its Buddhist churches and facilities. As a leader of the UBCV, the Patriarch was persecuted for opposing the creation of the state-sponsored "Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam," the only Buddhist organization established and recognized by the Communist government of Vietnam. In 1982, the Patriarch was exiled for 10 years. In 1995, he was sentenced to five years in prison and five years' house arrest for organizing a rescue mission for flood victims in the Mekong Delta. His sentence was cut short due to international pressure in 1998.
In 2001, he launched a plan called “Appeal for Democracy in Vietnam,” which was supported by more than 300,000 Vietnamese from different faith backgrounds, as well as international stakeholders. The government placed him under administrative detention without trial at Thanh Minh Zen Monastery where he was prevented from receiving medical treatment despite suffering from diabetes.
During a brief reprieve beginning in June 2003, Thich Quang Do attempted to participate in a UBCV Assembly called by then Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang. But in October 2003, authorities accused him of “possessing state secrets” and again confined him to Thanh Minh Zen Monastery without due process or a formal charge. He remained there under constant surveillance and effective house arrest until October 5, 2018, when he was expelled. After a brief visit to his home province of Thai Binh, he returned to Ho Chi Minh City to reside at Tu Hieu Pagoda, where Vietnamese authorities continued to regularly surveil him. The Patriarch passed away on February 22, 2020, at the age of 93.
Thich Quang Do has been RELEASED in late 2018.
Advocate: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
Advocacy Partner: U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga has called on the government of Vietnam to respect the freedom of movement and religious freedom of Patriarch Thich Quang Do (November 28, 2018, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom).
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a statement mourning the passing of Patriarch Thich Quang Do. A USCIRF delegation had met with the Patriarch in September 2019 (February 25 2020).