The Honorable Fidel Ramos
President of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace, Manila

Dear President Ramos:

We are very disturbed by today's arrest of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam's Chief Representative, Venerable Thich Nu Dieu Thao, and most of the Buddhist lay leaders in Palawan Camp.

As you may know, the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) has been outlawed by the Communist Government, which considers all religions as its enemies. Many clergy members of UBCV have been arrested; several of them have perished in detention. Virtually all off its leadership in Vietnam, including its Supreme Patriarch and hid deputy, are presently either in prison or under house arrest. Venerable Dieu Thao herself had been exiled to a malaria infested New Economic Zone (NEZ), where she had been forced to perform hard labor. Many times she had been caught during her attempts to escape from Vietnam and sent to prison. This unbearable situation continued until her successful escape to the Philippines in May 1989.

We appeal to you, in the Christian spirit of your nation, to extend your protection to UBCV clergy member and lay leaders in your country. They had suffered severe prosecution in Vietnam due to their religious faith. We understand that many of these lay leaders have been taken into custody and separated from their families who remain at Palawan Camp. Please allow them to return to their families for the Tet occasion.

Your act of compassion and generosity will prove to countries in the region and the world that Christian humanitarianism covers people of other religions, including Buddhism, the dominant religion in Asia.


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