Washington D.C. - In a phone interview this morning with Radio Free Asia (RFA), a prominent Buddhist dissident, Venerable Thich Quang Do, reported that public security officers in Ho Chi Minh City warned him and two others that they can anticipate arrest at "any time." Venerable Thich Tue Sy, the newly appointed Secretary General of the Unified Buddhist Church (UBC), was notified of this during a "work session" that he was sent to by the public security people of Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh City. He was told that an arrest warrant had been issued for the UBC leaders and that they could expect arrest "at any time we think it necessary." On September 15, Venerable Thich Khong Tanh was interrogated from 4:30 until 10:30 p.m. The next day, he was again called up for a "working session" from 10:00 in the morning until noon, then was asked to be back at 2 p.m. When he refused, he was taken by force and submitted to another "working session" that lasted until 5:30 p.m. On September 16, Venerable Thich Tue Sy was also interrogated in a similar session from 8 to 11:30 am. Recent pronouncements from the UBC, the largest church in Vietnam, have apparently angered the CPV, setting off this new campaign of harassment aimed at the UBC leadership. Asked how he feels towards the new threat, the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, who had spent more than 17 years in communist jail and exile to the countryside, responded: "Living in a society like this, what can I do except to endure, to bear it all? How can we oppose them, power being in their hands?" Referring to the UN Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, Dr. Abdelfattah Amor, who visited Vietnam at the end of last year and was physically prevented from seeing Mr. Do, one of the public security officers said: "Look at Amor, we could throw him out. What do you think you are?" Regarding his possible imprisonment, Thich Quang Do said: "Since we are helpless in this situation, we urge that our compatriots, the Buddhist sangha and followers do everything they can to ensure our safety. Likewise we appeal to human rights organizations who in the past had also helped us... I am 72 years old now, I don't think they will leave me in peace until I am within six boards [i.e. in a coffin]." Radio Free Asia is a private corporation that was established in 1996 to provide news and information to listeners in China, Tibet, Vietnam, Burma, North Korea, Laos and Cambodia. It is funded by grants from Congress. RFA's mission is to be a forum for a variety of opinions and voices from within Asian nations whose people do not have full freedom of expression. Listener confidence in the quality and credibility of its broadcasts is RFA's highest priority. RFA is a journalistically independent organization whose autonomy is key to providing objective domestic news and information.

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