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Vietnam’s dissident monk, Nobel Prize nominee passes away at 93

Thich Quang Do was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize multiple times for his vocal advocacy for democracy.

Feb 25, 2020 12:08 IST
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Thich Quang Do - Vietnam’s dissident Buddhist monk, who had been under house arrest since 2003, passed away at the age of 93 years on February 22, 2020. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize multiple times for his vocal advocacy for democracy.

The Buddhist monk was the head of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV). The church reported his death on February 23. As per reports, the Buddhist monk in his will signed in April 2019 has requested a simple funeral, not more than three days and his ashes to be scattered at sea after cremation.

The church also requested the followers of the late religious leader to not bring money, as is customary in the funerals conducted in the nation. The official statement also mentioned that there will be no final words, biographies or emotional showings, just praying.

Thich Quang Do: Everything you need to know!

Thich Quang Do was born in 1928 in Thai Binh province. The Buddhist monk had spent most of his life fighting for religious freedom and human rights in communist-run Vietnam.

The communist government effectively placed him under house arrest in 2003 and since then he was under constant surveillance in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.

He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize multiple times for his staunch advocacy for democracy in Vietnam. He wrote an “Appeal for Democracy” in 2001 and also called upon dissidents from the north and south Vietnam to drop their cultural differences and unite in 2005.

He was the head of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) from 2008 until his death. The church was banned in the early 1980s after it refused to join the state-sanctioned Vietnam Buddhist Church.

During the Vietnamese War, Do served as a university academic in Buddhism and translated sutras and wrote books. His most notable work was a nine-volume Buddhist encyclopedia and a two-volume dictionary between Vietnamese and Sino-Vietnamese.

Awards

Thich Quang Do was awarded the Hellman-Hammet Award for persecuted writers in 2001.

He was honoured with the Homo Homini Award for human rights activism by a Czech group People in Need in 2003. He shared the award with Thích Huyen Quang and Father Nguyen Van Ly.

He was awarded Norway’s Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize in 2006 for his personal courage and perseverance through three decades of peaceful opposition against Vietnam’s communist regime. However, he was unable to receive the award, as the communist government prevented him from attending the ceremony.

He was honoured with the Democracy Courage Tribute as well in 2006 by the World Movement for Democracy.

Background

Vietnam has a long history of an uneasy relationship with organised religion. Thich Quang Do, being a senior monk at the UBCV, had led the religious organization’s opposition to the government order demanding that it join the government-endorsed Vietnamese Buddhist Church.

The Buddhist monk was detained multiple times by the communist authorities of Vietnam in the last 45 years for his resistance to their policies and his call for multi-party democracy. He was placed under police surveillance in 2003.

Thich Quang Do got involved in political activism after witnessing the execution of his master at the hands of a communist people's court in 1945.

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