Congressman Lowenthal Expresses Concern Over Vietnamese Buddhist Patriarch, Calls On State Dept. To Determine His Whereabouts and Condition

October 12, 2018
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal today called on the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam to visit with the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), determine his current health conditions, and report back any findings.

The 91-year-old Patriarch, a 16-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee who is an outspoken defender of religious freedom within Vietnam, has been out of communications since shortly after being asked to leave the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon a month ago.

In a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink, the Congressman explained, "The Patriarch left the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery … and was only able to take with him three Buddhist monk robes.  From September 15th to October 5th, Patriarch Thich Quang Do was "homeless" and had to stay at various monasteries throughout Saigon.  On October 5th, the Patriarch boarded a train back to his ancestral hometown in Thai Binh Province, northern Vietnam.  His current health and well-being are unknown and communications with the Patriarch have been cut off.  I am deeply concerned with Patriarch Thich Quang Do's current conditions."

Over the past four decades, the Patriarch has been arrested and imprisoned by Vietnamese authorities numerous times and continues to face intense government surveillance and restrictions on his movement.

As a leader of the UBCV, the Patriarch has been persecuted by the Communist government of Vietnam for opposing the creation of the State-created and State-sponsored Buddhist religious organization, the "Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam."

In 2015, Congressman Lowenthal met with the Patriarch during a Congressional visit to Vietnam and in April, 2018, the Congressman adopted the Patriarch as a prisoner of conscience through the Tom Lantos Commission's Defending Freedom Project.

In concluding the letter, the Congressman requests that Ambassador Kritenbrink, "…along with the U.S. Mission in Vietnam, visits the Patriarch Thich Quang Do in his current location at the earliest time possible to determine his condition and ensure his well-being. I also would like to request the U.S. Mission to establish a line of communication with the Patriarch given the latest developments."

The letter was delivered today. To read the full text of the litter, please click here.