Amnesty International issued a report in May on the plight of Vietnam's Buddhists, titled "Socialist Republic of Viet Nam: Buddhist Monks in Detention." The 12-page report profiled the cases of several monks it considered "prisoners of conscience." It also called for fair and open trials in accordance with international standards "to all monks charged with political offenses." The report described the SRV's efforts since 1975 to regulate religious activities through repressive legislation and bringing religious groups under tighter government control. In the case of the Buddhists, this resulted in the establishment of the Vietnam Buddhist Church in 1981, and the abolition of the Vietnam Unified Buddhist Church, along with all other independent Buddhist organizations. Monks profiled in the report included Thich Tri Tuu, Thich Hai Tang, Thich Hai Chanh, Thich Hai Thinh, Thich Hanh Due, Thich Thien Tho, Thich Huyen Quang, Thich Quang Do, Thich Nguyen Gia, Thich Tue Sy, Thich Tri Sieu, Thich Thien Tan, and Thich Phuc Vien. Amnesty is concerned that all of the above prisoners may be detained for the nonviolent expression of their beliefs, and that they have been denied due process and fair trials.
In past issues of The Mindfulness Bell, we have documented cases of these and other prisoners of conscience in Vietnam and circulated open letters appealing for their release. Unfortunately it seems that this is a task we will have to continue for some time to come.