Mob, police force nuns to leave Vietnam monastery

By BEN STOCKING, Associated Press Writer Ben Stocking, Associated Press Writer Mon Sep 28

HANOI, Vietnam – Followers of a world-famous Buddhist teacher say police and an angry mob have forced them out of a monastery in central Vietnam, ending a religious experiment in the communist country that turned into a monthslong standoff with authorities.

Followers of Thich Nhat Hanh, an Vietnam-born monk who has popularized Buddhism in the West, said about 150 monks were forced from the Bat Nha monastery in Lam Dong province Sunday, and about 230 nuns left on their own Monday morning.

“The Vietnamese government has won,” said Sister Dang Nghiem, speaking by telephone Monday from a monastery in San Diego, California, where Nhat Hanh is visiting. “Their ‘victory’ is that Bat Nha is completely destroyed. Everything is smashed.”

The dispute is a remarkable turnaround from four years ago, when Nhat Hanh returned to Vietnam after 39 years of exile. His return made the front pages of state-owned newspapers, and many saw his return as evidence the government was easing restrictions on religion.

Authorities originally approved of his group’s activities, but the relationship began to deteriorate about a year ago. The government has been trying to remove the monks from Bat Nha for several months, describing the standoff as a conflict between two Buddhist factions.

Nhat Hanh’s followers, however, say the government is cracking down because their teacher has urged it to end its control of religion and disband the religious police.

Authorities say the followers ignored requests to leave from the monastery’s abbot, Duc Nghi, a member of the official Buddhist Church of Vietnam, who invited the followers to settle there in 2005 but changed his mind last year. The followers, however, say Duc Nghi embraced Nhat Hanh as his teacher for life but was pressured by the government to renounce him.

A mob damaged buildings on the monastery grounds in June, and authorities cut off power to the site. Authorities then set a Sept. 2 deadline for Nhat Hanh’s followers to leave, which they ignored.

The periodic clashes climaxed Sunday.

Nhat Hanh’s followers say about 150 local residents and plainclothes police descended on Bat Nha early Sunday, smashing windows and dragging monks from their dormitory, where they were chanting and meditating.

The followers say the monks were herded onto a truck and taxis and taken to other locations in the province.

Nguyen Phuoc Loc, a follower from Ho Chi Minh City, said he helped relocate the nuns to a nearby pagoda early Monday, leaving Bat Nha empty.

Reached by phone Monday morning, Huynh Duc Hoa, the head of Lam Dong’s provincial government, denied that anything had happened at the monastery and hung up without answering further questions.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, who was visiting Vietnam on Sunday, told a press briefing he had expressed “concern” about the situation to Vietnamese authorities and requested more information.

Nhat Hanh’s followers say they will meet with officials from the official Vietnam Buddhist Church in Lam Dong on Monday afternoon to discuss the fate of the monks and nuns, who wish to remain together.

Nhat Hanh, who has sold millions of books around the world, now lives in southern France.

“We have won by remaining peaceful, by not showing hatred towards anybody,” said Sister Dang, who said she has communicated regularly by e-mail and telephone with his followers in Vietnam. “We have trained our young practitioners well. They have very strong ideals.”

Source:  LINK

Phỏng vấn một thượng tọa Làng Mai

Hàng trăm phật tử tu theo phật pháp Làng Mai của thiền sư Thích Nhất Hạnh đã phải tá túc tại chùa Phước Huệ tại Bảo Lộc, Lâm Đồng sang ngày thứ hai sau khi bị đuổi khỏi Tu viện Bát Nhã.

Các nhân chứng nói với BBC những kẻ côn đồ mà họ cho là được sự hậu thuẫn của công an đã tấn công các nhà tu hành và buộc họ rời tu viện Bát Nhã trong ngày hôm qua, 27/9.

Thầy Thích Trung Hải từ trung tâm của phật giáo Làng Mai ở Paris xác nhận với BBC ”Tu Viện Bát Nhã đã hoàn toàn bị phá hủy và tăng thân tu học theo phật môn Làng Mai tại đó hoàn toàn bị triệt tán.”

Thầy Thích Trung Hải cũng nói Làng Mai đã đầu tư 14 tỷ đồng để xây dựng cơ sở tại Tu Viện Bát Nhã và số tiền này có chữ ký ghi nhận của Viện chủ Tu Viện Bát Nhã, Thượng Tọa Thích Đức Nghi, người hiện không muốn có liên hệ với Làng Mai.

Source:  BBCVietnamese

Comments (1)

Thanh Thảo

January 8th, 2010 at 5:47 pm    

Đây là lần đầu mình thấy cái này đấy, mình lạc hậu quá chăng?

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