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Thich Nhat Hanh monks ejected from Vietnamese monastery

Nonviolent followers of Vietnamese Zen teacher and world-renowned author Thich Nhat Hahn were violently ejected from the Bat Nha
monastery in Lam Dong province in Vietnam on Sunday. The monks’ ejection followed months of tension.

(photo AFP)


According to this AP story, the ejection of the monks ended a month of tension, and 380 monks and nuns were forced to leave by police and an angry mob.

Nhat Hahn returned to Vietnam in 2004, after almost 40 years of exile
by Vietnam’s government. The Bat Nha monastery that opened after his
return became a source of tension between his followers and the
government. Some observers note that the monks began to speak out against the religion police and control of religion by the state, and that caused the government crackdown, although Vietnamese officials claim it is an internal
Buddhist dispute that caused the ejection.


Despite being dragged
from their beds and monastery by bat-wielding police and townspeople,
the monks maintained a nonviolent response.

Buddhist protest and monks’ involvement in politics has a long history in Vietnam, dating back at least to Thích Qu?ng ??c , the Buddhist monk who lit himself on fire and burned to death in the middle of traffic in Saigon on June 1963 to protest the oppressive South Vietnamese government.

I’ve visited Vietnam and made it point to visit  ??c‘s memorial. The car he drove to his self-immolation, the grounds of his monastery — all are preserved as a monument to Vietnamese patriotism. It was incredibly moving to see the small car, the traditional pagoda, the young monks still doing their daily tasks there.

Interesting to see that the engaged Buddhism of practicing monks in 2009 is troubling to the current Vietnamese state, as it was in the 1960s.

What can we do? I’m staying informed on the situation. I’m practicing some metta and tonglen for them. And I’m very grateful there are no religion police in the U.S.A.  


Comments read comments(6)
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Jon Rubinstein

posted September 29, 2009 at 1:28 pm

I deeply admire the monastics’ ability to respond nonviolently. I realize this is at the core of Thich Nhat Hanh’s work, but to actually practice it has to be challenging in the face of brutality. Brother Trung Hai who is a Dharma teacher at the monastery but was in France at the time of the attacks, said this:
“The Vietnamese government and the Religious Committee and the National Buddhist Church have won. Their victory is that Bat Nha is completely destroyed. Everything is smashed. All the monks and nuns have been evicted from the monastery and the buildings have been stripped bare.
Our monastics brothers and sisters have done their part, that is they have responded faithfully to every challenge with non-violence, compassion and forgiveness. And yes, they have won.
Now we rest on the conscience of the government and of the people, inside and outside of Vietnam.
We do not blame anyone. We have no anger toward anyone. We know that our enemies are not people; they are greed, hatred and ignorance.”
For more on the situation check this out – – and of course go to

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posted September 29, 2009 at 3:40 pm

You can help by continuing to call the Vietnamese embassies, human rights groups, elected officials in your countries to demand an end to the persecution of the 400 refugee monks and nuns. I have put together contact information and template emails/call scripts at:
ps. the monks and nuns are now being asked to leave by the government from the temple that they were invited to stay at yesterday by the abbot of the monastery.

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Peggy Lindquist

posted September 29, 2009 at 6:11 pm

It is my understanding, and it would be completely consistent with what I have observed, that the monks and nuns and the aspirants have avoided making any political statements of any kind. They are there to learn the practice of mindfulness and peace. Thich Nhat Hanh has been trying to engage the government of Vietnam in an exploration of widening religious freedom.

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Anan E. Maus

posted September 30, 2009 at 1:55 pm

very sad, but thanks for sharing the situation so that we could be informed.
As far as what to do?
Might want to see what Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are doing about it. I am sure one or both groups will develop a response soon.

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posted October 2, 2009 at 11:02 am

My heart goes out to the monks and nuns and the repressed people of Vietnam.
There might not be ‘religion police’ in the US but you better not wear Muslim clothes in some places…

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posted October 2, 2009 at 8:09 pm

It’s all about testing relegious’ patient. The Vietnamese government just want to see what the West will do, especially Thay Thich Nhat Hanh can do. Vietnamese people have been living under China’s oppression for thousands of years. The Vietnamese government action is just under the direction from the Chinese government. This reminded me about the Buddha’s Teaching of the Food Chain. The bigger animal eats the smaller animal. What kind of world am I living in?
Suffering of others is running in my blood.

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