As you’ll see from our ongoing coverage of Bat Nha, we think this story is important. So we’ll keep working to keep you up to date. Or to help you get started following Bat Nha if you haven’t yet.
This concise new item on the ongoing conflict for the monastics of Bat Nha, via Radio Free Asia, is a good place to start.
Note: We’ve condensed RFA’s story here for quicker reading, but you can find the long form of it here.
BANGKOK—An international rights group has called on the European Union (EU) and other donors to step up pressure on Vietnam after a standoff between government supporters and followers of a top Zen Buddhist during a visit by EU diplomats to his monastery.
Some 400 disciples of Thich Nhat Hanh, who has helped to popularize Buddhism in the West, were evicted from the Bat Nha monastery in Lam Dong province in September.
Since then, nearly 200 have taken refuge at the nearby Phuoc Hue pagoda, but they have been ordered to leave by Dec. 31 and are now seeking asylum in France.
“We can no longer withstand the government’s intense pressure to disperse,” senior monk Thich Trung Hai wrote in a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy posted online Thursday. […]
Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director for the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said “mobs of 100 to 200 people…have moved in” to the Bat Nha monastery.
“They dragged the abbot out. They were shouting insults and demanding to expel the Bat Nha Buddhists,” she said, referring to disciples of Thich Nhat Hanh, a France-based Zen monk, peace activist, and confidant of slain U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King. […]
Vietnam’s communist government, which closely monitors religious affairs, had been trying to remove the monks from the monastery for several months.
The government accuses Nhat Hanh’s followers of sowing discord and defying central authorities by worshipping without official approval. The monastics say they followed all necessary procedures and only want to meditate and practice together.
The authorities have described the standoff as a conflict between two Buddhist factions.
But Nhat Hanh’s followers believe the government is cracking down on them because their teacher has called on the communist government to end its control of religion and disband its religious police.