- ... From: br_phap_dung To: email@example.com Sent: Monday, July 22, 2013 5:56 AMMessage 1 of 1 , Jul 22, 2013View Source----- Original Message -----From: br_phap_dungSent: Monday, July 22, 2013 5:56 AMSubject: [oi-announce] Help make a Plum Village-Vietnam Center possible!
Dear OI Community, Brothers and Sisters in the Dharma,
Please help us get the message out to your Representative and/or
Senator regarding our Bat Nha Monks and Nuns still not having an
official practice center in Vietnam to call their home.
Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang will visit the White House from
July 24-26 and meet with US organizations on many issues, including
their need to improve Human Rights.
Unfortunately, we only have two days, Monday and Tuesday, to make this
effort. Please help especially if the US official that represents your
district is involved with Foreign Affairs Committee or is an advocate
for Human Rights or involved with efforts to improve relation with
These notes below are to help us prepare to make the call, created my
out OI member Susan O'Leary.
In Prayer for the evolution of Vietnam,
Brother Phap Dung
Calling your representative or senator
Thank you for volunteering to contact your senator and/or representative
in the support of Thich Nhat Hanh's Bat Nha monastics during this
very important week of Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang's visit
to the White House. Senators and representatives respond most sincerely
to calls from constituents, so you are making a difference that we at
Plum Village could not make. Here are some thoughts to help you with
your phone call.
Establishing the contact
· Your call is a practice in Deep Speech. Please be friendly,
respectful, and clear in your message. Please also take this as an
opportunity to practice Deep Listening. Martin Luther King, Jr. -
who, as you know, nominated Thây for the Nobel Peace Prize -
pointed out that listening is an invaluable tool you have in opening up
communication between yourself and those in power.
· When you call, please ask to speak to the staffer who works
o Your senator on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
o Or your representative on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee
· Introduce yourself, where you live in the district or state
and tell them why you are calling. If the staffer (who is very busy and
has many responsibilities) has time to talk, try to create a
relationship between the two of you in the conversation.
· Give your message, which follows below.
· After the message, thank them for their time, and ask what
is the best way for you to be in contact again to follow up on the
visit. Make sure to get the staffer's name, and if possible, direct
line or email.
· Thank them again for their time and their and the
· If you got an email address, please send a short follow-up
thank you after your initial (and, hopefully, subsequent) conversation.
Before you call, please read the following bullet points several times
so that you can talk about them conversationally, without sounding like
you are reading from a text.
Please make these points in this order:
· Thich Nhat Hanh is an internationally recognized Zen Master
who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr.
in 1967 for his peace work during the Vietnam War.
· In 2009, his Plum Village Buddhist monks and nuns in
Vietnam were brutally expelled from their Bat Nha monastery and forced
either to renounce their monastic vows and return to lay life, to go
into hiding in Vietnam, or to leave the country.
· This situation was followed very closely by the State
Department, as reported in the 2010 International Religious Freedom
Report and brought up in more than a dozen meetings with Vietnamese high
ranking officials in 2009. It has been referenced specifically in both
the 2010 and 2011 reports from the State Department on International
· With this important visit of President Troung Tan Sang and
his delegation, and with the importance of religious freedom to us in
the United States, please bring again attention to the situation of
these monks and nuns.
· Specifically, as part of Vietnam's efforts to make
concrete and significant improvement on human rights, including freedom
of religion, the government should allow these two things:
o That the Plum Village Buddhist order be able to officially establish
Plum Village practice centers with its own independent practices as in
other countries. Plum Village Practice centers exist in numerous nations
through the world, but not in Vietnam,, the birth land of Zen Master
Thich Nhat Háº¡nh.
o That Thich Nhat Hanh's international Plum Village teachers be
allowed once again to enter Vietnam with Religious Visas, in order to
support the young monks and nuns in Vietnam.
· Again, as you end the conversation, please thank the
staffer for his or her time and for helping to highlight these important
points during the visit.
Being in touch with Plum Village
Please let us know how your talk went and your sense of how your senator
or representative will respond to this issue. Important help for Bat
Nha monastics came out of phone calls just like yours in 2009. Our email
address is: batnhalives@...
A deep bow to your work,
Plum Village Order of Interbeing Community
Background for you in calling
If you have time or would like to know more background, please read
these excerpts from the Department of State's 2009 Report on
International Religious freedom.
The UBCV, which Thây is affiliated with, is the independent (and
unrecognized by the government of Vietnam), United Buddhist Church of
Vietnam. The official government Buddhist organization, which operates
under severe constraints, is the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha (VBS). CRA
is the Vietnamese government's Committee for Religious Affairs.
From the report:
Every year, "the Department of State submits (a) report to the
Congress in compliance with section 102(b) of the International
Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. The law provides that the
Secretary of State, with the assistance of the Ambassador-at-Large for
International Religious Freedom, shall transmit to Congress `an
Annual Report on International Religious Freedom supplementing the most
recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information
with respect to matters involving international religious freedom.'
The 2010 report detailed, from the State Department's diplomatic
perspective, the events at Bat Nha and the U.S. government's
response. It is helpful to read this report as an exercise in Deep
Speech. In hoping to improve the situation of religious freedom in
Vietnam, it is important that the State Department speak from a middle
way. Here are two pertinent excerpts from the 2010 report.
Abuses of Religious Freedom
In April representatives from the Plum Village community headquartered
in France met with the representatives from the Vietnamese Embassy in
France to discuss the community's activities in the country. Twice,
Vietnam's Vice Foreign Minister Nguyen Thanh Son also offered to meet
with their leader, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, but Thich Nhat Hanh did
not accept the offer. In February 2009 Thich Nhat Hanh had called on the
government to release all political prisoners, to disband the "religious
police," and to establish an "independent Buddhist church" not connected
to politics. Violence began in June 2009 when a group of vigilantes
attacked the Plum Village meditation center and dormitories in the Bat
Nha monastery compound in Lam Dong Province. The attack occurred in the
presence of uniformed and plainclothes police, who did nothing to
prevent it. Resident Bat Nha monks, opposed to the Plum Village
community's presence in the pagoda, isolated the group and cut off their
water and electricity from June until the end of September. CRA
instructed local authorities to evict the Plum Village community from
the pagoda, failed to prevent the attacks and punish those involved, and
appeared to favor one side in the dispute. On September 27 a large mob,
in coordination and alleged participation with plainclothes police, beat
and forcibly evicted approximately 150 Plum Village monks from the Bat
Nha pagoda. The monks then sought refuge at the nearby Phuoc Hue pagoda.
On September 28 the remaining 200 Plum Village nuns were also forcibly
evicted and joined the monks at Phuoc Hue. In November two pagodas in
Dong Nai and Lam Dong provinces petitioned the central VBS and CRA to
allow them to sponsor the Plum Village monks and nuns. The CRA rejected
these petitions, claiming that the Plum Village community "failed to
obey the law" and "caused disunity" among Buddhists, ordering the Lam
Dong provincial VBS to force the monks and nuns to disband and return to
their home provinces by December 31, 2009. The Plum Village community of
monks and nuns voluntarily left the pagoda in late December. Another
group of 21 Plum Village monks and nuns were forcibly evicted from a
pagoda in Khanh Hoa Province on November 29. Several hundred monks and
nuns from the community left the country in December 2009 following
harassment from authorities in several provinces. The leader of the
Vietnamese members of the community remained under the observation of
authorities in Hanoi. At the end of the reporting period, many of the
Plum Village community had left for Thailand and remained there.
Section IV. U.S. Government Policy
The U.S. embassy in Hanoi and the consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City
actively and regularly raised concerns about religious freedom with a
wide range of CPV leaders and government officials, including
authorities in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Committee for
Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, and other offices in
Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and the provinces. The mission also maintained
regular contact with religious leaders and dissidents throughout the
country and routinely visited religious leaders throughout the country.
Secretary Clinton, in meetings with government officials during the past
year, called for continued improvements in religious freedom. Religious
freedom also was a major focus of the 2009 U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights
Dialogue. The Deputy Secretary of State, Assistant Secretary of State
for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the U.S. ambassador, the consul
general in Ho Chi Minh City, and other embassy and consulate general
officers also raised religious freedom issues with senior officials,
including the president, prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the
foreign minister, the head of the government Committee for Religious
Affairs, Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Public Security,
officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' External Relations Office
in Ho Chi Minh City, other senior government officials, chairpersons of
Provincial People's Committees throughout the country, and other
officials, particularly in the Central and Northwest Highlands and
In the case of the Plum Village Buddhist Community, consulate officers
visited their pagoda following the outbreak of violence in the Central
Highlands and embassy officers met with the head of the Plum Village
Community in Vietnam. The ambassador and deputy chief of mission met
more than a dozen times with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the
Ministry of Public Security, and the CRA to advocate for tolerance,
registration of the community, and an end to harassment. Secretary
Clinton and senior officials from the Department of State raised
concerns about treatment of Buddhists in the Plum Village Community,
during meetings both in the United States and in the country.
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