UNPO Appeal for Release of Khmer Krom Buddhist Monk
On July 29, 2010 former Buddhist abbot and member of the Khmer Krom ethnic minority of Vietnam, Mr. Thach Sophon, was arrested without charges by the police.
Below is an appeal issued by UNPO:
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) strongly condemns the recent arrest of Mr. Thach Sophon, former Buddhist abbot and member of the Khmer Krom ethnic minority, by the Vietnamese authorities.
Mr. Thach Sophon has been a longstanding defender of human rights and was active in the promotion of freedom of speech and religion. He was arrested by the Vietnamese police on July 29, 2010, his current location is unknown.
UNPO General Secretary, Marino Busdachin, declared that “this is only one instance of the many human rights violations carried out by the Vietnamese government. It calls into serious doubt the country’s commitment to adhering to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”
In a similar incident Soeun Ty, a Khmer Krom Buddhist monk with Cambodian citizenship, was detained on May 27, 2010 while visiting his parents in Vietnam. The Vietnamese authorities confiscated his passport and only released him after several hours of interrogation. His parents face harassment and have to report to the local police station on a daily basis.
Many more Vietnamese citizens have been arrested for engaging in religious activities or advocating for freedom of religion. Religious leaders of Catholic, Protestant and Buddhist communities have been detained and members forced to renounce their faith. The Vietnamese authorities ignore violence that targets religious communities and frequently attempt to seize their property.
UNPO therefore calls on the government of Vietnam to uphold its commitment to human rights and to allow members of the Khmer Krom minority and other ethnic minorities and religious communities to voice their opinions freely. It urges the Vietnamese authorities to immediately release Mr. Thach Sophon.