Religion Bulletin, November 2023: Most Venerable Thich Tue Sy Passed Away; The Government Views Religion As a Tool to Implement Its Policy

Religion Bulletin, November 2023: Most Venerable Thich Tue Sy Passed Away; The Government Views Religion As a Tool to Implement Its Policy

Most Venerable Thich Tue Sy passed away at 81 on Nov. 24, 2023, at Phat An Pagoda, Dong Nai Province. 

The late Most Venerable Thich Tue Sy held the position of Chief Secretary of the Standing Order of the Supreme Patriarchate of the United Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCVN) as the temporary leader of this sangha. The UBCVN was outlawed by the Vietnamese government in 1981 after it established the Vietnam Buddhist Church as the only Buddhist sangha recognized by the Vietnamese government and a member of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front. [1] [2]

He was also a dissident and had been sentenced to death in October 1988 for alleged activities to “overthrow the people's government.” His sentence was reduced to 20 years in prison thanks to international intervention. [3]

He was also known as a scholar of philosophy and Buddhism.

His funeral went well even though local authorities initially prevented the hanging of banners with the words "Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam." [4]

According to the UBCVN, Most Venerable Thich Tue Sy's real name was Pham Van Thuong, and he was born on April 5, 1945, in Pakse Province, Laos. [5]

From 1964 to 1970, he studied at the Buddhist College and later worked as a professor at Van Hanh University in South Vietnam.

In 1973, he became the director of the Central Buddhist Academy. After April 30, 1975, the new government closed the academy, and he moved to a temple near Nha Trang City.

In 1977, he went to Saigon to take refuge at Tap Thanh Pagoda in Binh Thanh District. The government arrested him in early 1978 and detained him for three years without trial for allegedly residing illegally at that temple. After the war, the hukou system in Vietnam was very strict, and he was caught in the middle of the government's enforcement of its system.

On April 1, 1984, Thich Tue Sy was arrested a second time together with Thich Tri Sieu (also known as Professor Le Manh That) and many other monks for the alleged crime of “overthrowing the government.” After being detained for about four years, Thich Tue Sy and Thich Tri Sieu were sentenced to death in October 1988. However, the following month, international outrage helped reduce the sentences to 20 years.

In 1998, Thich Tue Sy was released due to more international intervention. In the same year, he was awarded the Hellman-Hammett Award of Human Rights Watch along with seven other people.

In April 1999, Most Venerable Thich Quang Do nominated Thich Tue Sy as the General Secretary of the Buddhist Institute of Buddhism of the UBCVN.

On August 21, 2022, the Central Sangha Council of the UBCVN appointed him chief secretary and standing handler of the supreme patriarchate. He held this position until his death.

Most Venerable Thich Tue Sy. Photo: Hội đồng Hoằng Pháp - UBCVN

[The Government’s Reach]

New Resolution of the Party’s Central Committee: Religion is a Tool to Realize Great National Unity

The party’s Central Committee, the highest leadership body of the Vietnamese Communist Party, determines that religion plays an important role in implementing the policy of great national unity.

This assertion is stated in Resolution No. 43 on implementing the policy of great national unity, issued on Nov. 24, 2023. [6]

Accordingly, the state uses religion to gather religious dignitaries and officials loyal to the state and ask them to join the "patriotic emulation movement" organized by the Vietnamese Fatherland Front, and local governments would launch that movement at all levels.

Dignitaries and religious officials propagate and mobilize people to carry out "the task of socio-economic development, ensuring national defense, security, and the foreign affairs of the locality and country."

The state will "ensure that religious organizations operate equally in accordance with the law and state-recognized charters and regulations."

At the same time, the resolution clearly states that the government will "respect and encourage the promotion of good cultural values, ethics and resources of religions for the cause of building and protecting the homeland".

The policies related to religion in this resolution show that religious organizations will not be allowed to operate independently. Religious organizations must be loyal to the state, must help the state implement policies of great unity, and control people's thoughts.

This resolution may make Vietnam's religious freedom situation more and more difficult for unrecognized and new religious groups today.

Hanoi: The Government Repairs the old Redemptorist Monastery

The Gospel for the Poor Facebook page said that since mid-November 2023, the Hanoi city government has arbitrarily repaired an old Catholic Redemptorist monastery.

The Redemptorist Order affirmed that it has never sold or handed this property to anyone. [7]

Vietnam requisitioned this facility to build the Dong Da Hospital in 1972, and the government has controlled it until now.

The government appropriated many Redemptorist establishments in the North after 1954 and after 1975 in the South.

In 1975, the Lam Dong provincial government appropriated the Scala chicken farm and Minh Duc High School. The government later changed the names of these two facilities to Da Lat Chicken Breeding Joint Stock Co. and Dong Da High School. The Redemptorist Order has repeatedly petitioned the government to return these facilities, but the government has ignored these requests. [8]

Up to now, many lands and properties belonging to the Catholic Church in Vietnam are in a state of intense dispute with the government.

Vinh Long: Police Clash with Khmer Buddhists

According to RFA Khmer, several government officials in Vinh Long Province clashed with Khmer Buddhist followers at a temple in this province. [9]

In another video, some people were seen throwing stones and attacking the temple in the presence of many police, who took no action. [10]

It is known that a monk and two Khmer Krom people were injured in the scuffle.

Some Khmer people in Vietnam and Cambodia believe that the Cochinchina region belongs to the Khmer. Every year, the Khmer community in Cambodia regularly organizes protests demanding that Vietnam return its land. [11]

The Vietnamese government has had special policies towards the Khmer community to quell this conflict. Many Khmer Buddhists have crossed the border into Cambodia because they believe they have been oppressed and discriminated against by these policies. [12]

A picture showing the conflict between the police and Khmer Krome people. Photo: Khmer Krome Facebook page.

[New Religion]

Quang Nam: Authorities Block the World Mission Society Church of God

In early November 2023, state newspapers reported that the World Mission Society Church of God had appeared and was growing in Quang Nam Province. [13] [14] [15] [16]

According to Tuoi Tre Newspaper, the World Mission Society Church of God has been divided into many small groups of believers, regularly changing locations and methods of operation to develop the religion. [17]

The People's Committee of Quang Nam Province has issued an official dispatch requesting state agencies to block these religious groups. [18]

Accordingly, Quang Nam Province will not allow this religious organization to register activities such as establishing non-governmental organizations or centralizing its religious activities, companies, offices, and clubs.

Previously, in September 2023, the Ministry of Home Affairs requested local authorities across the country to resolutely handle and prevent the activities of the World Mission Society Church of God. [19]

The government views the World Mission Society Church of God as a cult, accusing it of defrauding people, going against good customs, and destroying families..

Dak Lak: The Government Continues to Suppress the Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ

According to RFA, on Nov. 15, 2023, the Dak Lak provincial government prevented followers of the Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ from gathering to pray at H Ik Kbuôr's house in Ea Bar Commune, Buon Don District. [20]

According to a video posted on the Montagnards for Justice Facebook, the police broke into H Ik Kbuôr's house and asked the worshipers to disperse. [21]

On Nov. 17, 2023, the authorities summoned a number of worshipers for interrogation and forced them to sign a pledge not to practice their religion.

Two days later, the authorities came again to the home of H Ik Kbuôr and continued their threatening behavior while some worshipers were praying.

H Ik Kbuôr is the wife of Y Kreč Byă, who was arrested in early April 2023 for "undermining the national unity policy" under Article 116 of the Penal Code. [22]

Following shootings at two commune police stations in Dak Lak Province in June 2023, the government accused the Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ of being a reactionary organization and has been determined to destroy this organization. [23]

Video clip to show the police breaking into H Ik Kbuôr's house. Photo: Montagnards for Justice Facebook

Ba Ria – Vung Tau: The Government Prevents a Person from Distributing Falun Gong Materials

According to Ba Ria - Vung Tau Newspaper, on Nov. 21, 2023, Phu My Town authorities stopped a person from disseminating Falun Gong materials. [24]

Authorities confiscated 13 documents and 14 keychains containing content about the spiritual movement, which originated in China. Beijing bans Falun Gong and has jailed practitioners of the group it denounces as a cult.

Most Falun Gong followers, when discovered distributing materials of this discipline, will have their materials confiscated and be administratively fined for distributing unlicensed publications.

Local authorities all consider Falun Gong to be one of the cults operating in Vietnam. [25]

The police officer of Ba Ria-Vung Tau fined a Falun Gong practitioner. Photo: The People's Public Security Newspaper.

Meo Vac District, Ha Giang Province: The Government Successfully Suppressed the ​​San Sư Khẻ Tọ Religion

On Nov. 22, 2023, Ha Giang Province police said they had completely eliminated the San Sư Khẻ Tọ religion from Xin Cai and Khau Vai communes in Meo Vac District. [26]

In the first ten months of 2023, the Meo Vac District government organized two propagandizing campaigns to ask people to abandon the San Sư Khẻ Tọ religion. The government claims 125 households with 629 practitioners have "voluntarily renounced their religion." The three communes of Xin Cai, Khau Vai, and Can Chu Phin reportedly no longer have people following this religion. [27]

The authorities will launch the third round of its repression from Nov. 15, 2023, to Jan. 15, 2024.

These are religious activities included in Project No. 23, dated Nov. 23, 2018, of the Ha Giang Provincial Party Committee on "preventing, fighting, and resolving the activities of evil cults and strange religions in the province in the period of 2018 – 2025”. [28]

San Sư Khẻ Tọ, also known as Trinity Christianity, was brought to Ha Giang Province in 1997 by a Chinese person. [29]

Like other new religions, the San Sư Khẻ Tọ religion is not allowed to operate in Vietnam, and the government has tried to prevent, condemn, and eliminate the religion.


1. Thông bạch truy tán Công hạnh và Tưởng niệm Trưởng lão HT Thích Tuệ Sỹ. (2023, November 24). Hội đồng Hoằng Pháp.

2. Hội đồng Giáo phẩm Trung ương Giáo hội Phật giáo Việt Nam Thống nhất. (2022, September 1) Thư viện Hoa Sen.

3. HRW.

4. Tang lễ cố Hoà thượng Thích Tuệ Sỹ vẫn diễn ra tốt đẹp dù an ninh gây khó khăn. (2023, November 29). RFA.

5. Hoằng Pháp. (2023, November 25). Tiểu sử Hòa Thượng THÍCH TUỆ SỸ. Hội đồng Hoằng Pháp.

6. Nghị quyết số 43-NQ/TW ngày 24/11/2023, Hội nghị lần thứ tám Ban Chấp hành Trung ương Đảng khóa XIII về tiếp tục phát huy truyền thống, sức mạnh đại đoàn kết toàn dân tộc, xây dựng đất nước ta ngày càng phồn vinh, hạnh phúc. (2023, November 24). Hệ thống tư liệu - văn kiện Đảng.

7. Tu viện dòng Chúa cứu thể Hà Nội: Thông báo gửi các tu sĩ trong dòng và đơn khiếu nại khẩn cấp. (2023, November 11). Trang Facebook Tin mừng cho người nghèo.

8. Đòi lại đất tôn giáo - hy vọng mong manh. (2010, December 22). RFA.

9. Trang Facebook RFA Khmer. (2023, November 24).

10. Trang Facebook Khmer Krom:

11. Người Khmer Krom đòi Nam Bộ là 'vô lý'. (2014, September 17). BBC.

12. Mảnh tối trên chiếc áo màu nghệ tây của Phật giáo Khmer tại Việt Nam (2023, November 20). Luật Khoa.

13. Ngăn chặn 'Hội thánh Đức Chúa Trời Mẹ' phát triển 'tà đạo' ở Quảng Nam. (2023, November 4). Báo Pháp luật.

14. Người của Hội thánh Đức Chúa trời mẹ đến Quảng Nam chia nhiều nhóm nhỏ hoạt động. (2023, November 4). Tuổi Trẻ.

15. Nhiều đối tượng lén lút đến Quảng Nam phát triển "tà đạo". (2023, November 4). Người lao động.

16. Hội thánh Đức Chúa Trời Mẹ ở Quảng Nam truyền tà đạo, trục lợi cá nhân. (2023, November 4). Báo điện tử Pháp Luật thành phố Hồ Chí Minh.

17. Xem [14]

18. Xem [14]

19. Bộ Nội vụ: Kiên quyết đấu tranh, xóa bỏ tổ chức của Hội thánh Đức Chúa trời mẹ. (2023, September 17). Báo Tuổi Trẻ.

20. Chính quyền Đắk Lắk gia tăng đàn áp Hội thánh Tin lành Đấng Christ Tây Nguyên. (2023, November 21). RFA.

21. Người Thượng vì công lý. (2023, November 22).

22. Đắk Lắk: Khởi tố đối tượng phá hoại chính sách đại đoàn kết. (2023, April 8). Báo Nhân Dân.


24. Xử lý đối tượng tuyên truyền pháp luân công. (2023, November 22). Báo Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu điện tử.

25. Khuyến cáo người dân không tham gia phát tán tài liệu, tập luyện “pháp luân công”. (2023, December 12). Báo Công an.

26. Mèo Vạc triển khai cao điểm đợt 3 về tuyên truyền, vận động các hộ theo tà đạo quay về tín ngưỡng truyền thống. (2023, November 22). Công an tỉnh Hà Giang.

27. Xã Cán Chu Phìn, huyện Mèo Vạc xóa trắng thành công tà đạo San sư khẻ tọ ra khỏi địa bàn. (2023, September 22). Công an tỉnh Hà Giang.

28. Mèo Vạc: Tổ chức cho các hộ gia đình theo tà đạo ký cam kết quay lại phong tục, tập quán truyền thống.(2023, June 3). Đài phát thanh và truyền hình tỉnh Hà Giang.

29. Hiện tượng tôn giáo mới San sư khẻ tọ trong vùng đồng bào dân tộc Mông, Dao hiện nay. (2022, August 26). Công an tỉnh Lạng Sơn.

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