Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today announced that he has officially adopted the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do as a prisoner of conscience through the Defending Freedoms Project of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.
The Supreme Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Thich Quang Do has been under house arrest since 1998 for his activism against the Vietnamese government’s anti-Buddhist policies-- without due process or a formal charge. A renowned spiritual leader, scholar, dissident, and 16-times Nobel Peace Prize nominee, the Patriarch’s activism in support of religious freedom has resulted in a total of three decades of exile, imprisonment, and house arrest by Vietnamese authorities.
“The Patriarch has suffered decades of oppression and imprisonment for nothing more than standing up for his universal right of religious freedom,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “I am proud to be his advocate and I will continue to fight for his release.”
Under the Defending Freedoms Project, Congress Members seek the release or reduction of a prison sentence or the improvement of prison conditions for their adoptees, while also raising awareness about the unjust laws or policies that led to imprisonment.
Congressman Lowenthal has been calling for the release of the Patriarch since he became a Member of Congress and joined the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in 2013. The Congressman has spoken with the current and two previous U.S. Ambassadors to Vietnam on numerous occasions encouraging them to pressure the Vietnamese government to release the Patriarch. He has also directly appealed to both the Obama and Trump Administration to make the release of the Patriarch and other prisoners of conscience a priority of American foreign policy in Vietnam. In 2015, the Congressman traveled to Vietnam to meet with the Patriarch, where they discussed his case and the state of religious freedom in Vietnam. During the same trip, the Congressman engaged directly with members of the Vietnamese government to advocate for the Patriarch.