Buddhist monk vows to fight Vietnam travel ban

Posted: Friday, May 25, 2001

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) -- A dissident Vietnamese Buddhist monk vows to defy travel restrictions next month despite government threats, according to his outlawed religious body.

Thich Quang Do of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam was interrogated last week and told he committed ''grave offenses'' by sending letters to the United States and international groups appealing for human rights in Vietnam, the Paris-based International Buddhist Information Bureau reported.

Do, his group's second-ranking figure, was warned not to visit its leader, Thich Huyen Quang, 83, who has been under house arrest since 1992 and suffers from high blood pressure, arthritis and stomach ulcers.

Do wants Quang released so he can get better medical care, and plans to lead a protest delegation June 7 to escort Quang from his temple to Ho Chi Minh City. That would likely prompt a showdown with Communist authorities.

Do, who was released from prison in 1998, remains under de facto house arrest and has been arrested twice in the past year over unauthorized trips.

Vietnamese authorities last week arrested an outspoken Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, who has urged the U.S. Congress to link religious freedom to a bilateral trade pact it is considering with Vietnam. The regime has also quelled protests by Protestants over church restrictions.

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