Thich Quang Do

Current Status: House arrest

Photo of Thich Quang Do

Other Names: Thích Quảng Độ

Date of Birth: 1928

Gender: M

Religion: Buddhist

Ethnicity: Kinh


Latest Prison:

Areas of Activism:

  • Democracy
  • Human rights
  • Religious freedom

Known Affiliations:

  • Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam

Arrest History

October, 2003


October 2018:

The 90 year-old Venerable Thich Quang Do, the Patriarch of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Viet Nam (UBCV), has been forced to leave the monastery where he had been confined to house arrest since October 2003. A superior monk, Thích Thanh Minh, initiated the exit, saying that Thich Quang Do had brought problems upon the monastery, likely referring to his human rights, democracy, and religious freedom advocacy. According to Radio Free Asia, "The Vietnamese government, which does not recognize the church, had been trying to move Thich Quang Do out of the monastery for the past two years, and he vowed to stay unless asked to leave by the superior monk himself." Since leaving on September 15, he had no stable residence and has since moved back to his home province, the remote Thai Binh. Despite this setback, he has vowed to continue his work. 

Venerable Thích Quảng Độ is the Patriarch of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Viet Nam (UBCV). He was born in Thai Binh province and currently resides in Ho Chi Minh City. He has been the Patriarch of the UBCV since 2008. 

He is a leading advocate of religious freedom, human rights and democracy. In his various capacities within the UBCV leadership, he has steadfastly refused to join the government-created Buddhist Church. He has been alternatively imprisoned, internally exiled, or under house arrest since 1977. He was awarded the Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize, the Homo Homini Award (2002), and other prestigious human rights prizes.

Until October 2018, he had been confined to the Thanh Minh Zen monastery in Hồ Chí Minh City since October 2003, when security officials told him that he had been placed in administrative detention for an indefinite period.

July 2012:

Three UN Special Rapporteurs sent a letter to Vietnamese authorities asking for information about alleged retaliation against members of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, including Thich Quang Do, after they engaged in peaceful protests for maritime sovereignty. They asked for "the legal basis of the aforementioned restrictions on freedoms of peaceful assembly, opinion and expression and association" and for explanation as to "how these measures are compatible with international human rights norms and standards."

February 2014

Thich Quang Do gave recorded testimony at a Geneva event about the human rights situation in Vietnam. He spoke of his own imprisonment, stating: "What is my ‘crime’? That of calling on Vietnam to respect its people’s rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, religion and belief."

February 2017:

Amnesty International launched a letter-writing campaign to bring awareness to Thich Quang Do's plight, calling on members of the European Parliament to press for his release during a February 2017 visit to Vietnam.  


March 2018:

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) featured Thich Quang Do on their website. According to the USCIRF page: "Vietnamese authorities have repeatedly targeted, harassed, and detained Thich Quang Do both for practicing his faith and for his tireless advocacy for religious freedom and related human rights. For example, in 2001, he launched a plan called 'Appeal for Democracy in Vietnam,' which was supported by more than 300,000 Vietnamese from different faith backgrounds, as well as international stakeholders. As a result, the government placed him under administrative detention without trial at Thanh Minh Zen Monastery and prevented him from receiving medical treatment despite suffering from diabetes." 
April 2018:
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom released its 2018 Annual Report. It lists Vietnam as a Tier 1 County of Particular Concern, a designation it has had for the past 16 years. The report's appendix on Religious Prisoners of Conscience profiles the case of Venerable Thich Quang Do.

Defend the Defenders's archives

Amnesty International, Viet Nam: List of Prisoners of Conscience, 12 July 2016 (PDF)

BPSOS, Religious Prisoners in Vietnam, May 10, 2017 (PDF)

Thich Quang Do, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

Appendix 2 Religious Prisoners of Conscience, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, April 2018 (PDF)

UBCV Patriarch Thích Quảng Độ is expelled from the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon, Que Me, October 8, 2018

Leader of banned Vietnam Buddhist Sect Expelled from Thanh Minh Zen Monastery, Radio Free Asia, October 8, 2018

Profile last updated: 2018-10-15 02:59:06