400 young monks at Bat Nha Monastery are seeking help in persuading the Vietnamese government to let them live and practice in peace.
Tensions had been building since the Vietnamese government began provocations against the monastery last year. In October 2008, the chairman of Vietnam’s National Committee on Religious Affairs ordered the monks to leave the monastery after Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh made statements in support of the Dalai Lama and urged broader religious freedom in Vietnam. On June 27, 2009, authorities cut off the utilities at the monastery compound. Two days later, instigators threw rocks at an official Buddhist delegation that came to investigate.
Government hostility has continued, but hopefully the officials will calm down and realize that the monks are not a threat to them. The future of the monastery depends on official goodwill since Vietnam (albeit recognizing freedom of religion in its constitution) in practice restricts activities of religious organizations.
Followers of Hahn, the monks had been training at Bat Nha in the Plum Village Engaged Buddhist tradition since 2005–– when Hahn returned to Vietnam from 39 years of exile in France. For now, the monks are asking for attention and moral support at their website: Helpbatnha.org/