August 27, 2009

Help the Monks of Bat Nha in Vietnam

The monks of Bat Nha—a monastery in the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, who is currently recovering from a lung infection in a Boston hospital—face immediate eviction. You can help fight the eviction.

Gary Gach sent this email today, which contains a lot of information on the situation:

Dear Friends,

Today we are writing to you on behalf of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen master, poet, author and peace advocate. In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, saying "I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle monk from Viet Nam."

As a result of his peace activism, Thich Nhat Hanh was exiled from Viet Nam for 40 years. He founded a monastic community in Plum Village, France, where he teaches, writes, gardens and works to help refugees. He conducts mindfulness retreats worldwide, teaching and practicing non-violence and compassion.

In 2005, he was invited back to Viet Nam. Upon his return, his presence and teachings have inspired more than 400 young Vietnamese to become monastics. His followers were given permission to settle in the Bat Nha Monastery in Viet Nam where they have expanded the facilities, building meditation halls, living quarters, dining halls and kitchens.

After all these years, the Vietnamese government continues to see Thich Nhat Hanh and his followers as a threat. Again they want to banish him, his community and his growing number of followers from Viet Nam. Over 400 monastics at Bat Nha Monastery have been told that they must leave the monastery by September 2 or they will be removed by force.

The violence has already begun. The monks and nuns have been the target of hostile and violent acts. Their belongings were confiscated, gates to the monastery have been locked, lay persons and supporters are prohibited from entering, police have searched and interrogated monks and nuns at all hours, electricity and water have been turned off and food deliveries have been prevented. Yet in spite of these human rights and religious freedom violations, the monks and nuns have stayed. We fear for their safety.

We have only two short weeks to help. We are asking for your support in writing to your representatives and government officials to end the violations against the monks and nuns at Bat Nha and allow them to stay in the monastery and continue their practice peacefully.Some helpful information is listed below.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Gina Bell and Joan Indusi

For more information and sample letters:

Contact information:
Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton
(scroll to bottom for Contact Us)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
(212) 688-6262

Sen. Chuck Schumer
(212) 486-4430

Members of the House
(upper left corner to find/write to your representative)

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Mike Thompson's picture

Please, sign this NEW petition:

Many thanks

Also, please see for latest info

Marilyn Batista's picture

Urgent: Please help our defenceless Nuns and Monks, there being dragged like animals out of the Bat Nha Vietnam Monastery. Will will happen to them.

Kevin Clancy's picture

At the same time, please write to Human Rights Watch

or Amnesty International

I emailed Amnesty International already and handwrote a letter to HRW, the it always help that they hear from more than just one person. Thanks.

Vu Nguyen's picture

I would like to make the following suggestions:

To petition the Vietnamese government first (that venerable Thich Nhat Hanh and his organization would complement Vietnamese culture well and that Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh and his organizations are friends of Viet Nam and Vietnamese people. And that they would be of additional helpful resources to the Vietnamese government (and perhaps other global institutions such as the UN) regarding social and cultural programs), and then other representatives, government (the EU and the US start to have good relationship with Viet Nam), organizations, or people of influences (such as the elders: And then the UN (however at this writing, the situation may requires diplomatic petition from global communities). If the situation must requires immediate intervention, then petition to the UN along with other representatives may be necessary. Some world government, organizations, or people of influences may have good relationship with the Vietnamese government. However, Viet Nam has very good and coherent diplomatic and working relationship with the UN.

Please do not use harsh words in the petition for it could escalate or aggravate issues and make the situation worse. Let the representatives handle the differences of opinions or resolve the situation discretely (if possible) or mindfully. A long with the link you posted above, Senator Jim Webb (Virginia) and his team has just recently visited Viet Nam. Perhaps his team can also be of help.

Rob Sanchez's picture

This is the LATEST/ ON-GOING petition to compete with the September 2 deadline when the government threatens to remove all 379 monks and nuns from their monastery (Sept 2 is Vietnam's Independence day when most people will be celebrating or vacationing and not paying attention to the news).
Please, sign and FORWARD this petition to as many people as you can. Thank you.