Our recent work
Group 141’s most recent prisoner of conscience was The Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, who served as the Supreme Patriarch of the unofficial Unified Buddhist Church of Viet Nam. As as result of his outspoken defense of human rights and, in particular, the right to freely practice religion, he spent much of the time since 1977 until his death in July 2008 under house arrest. At the time of his death, he was 87 years old and had been suffering from poor health for several months.
Our group wrote countless letters on his behalf, and we counted it as a small success when in 2003, following persistent calls from AI members and other groups, the authorities changed the location of his imprisonment from a remote pagoda in Quang Ngai province, allowing him to return to Nguyen Thieu Monastery because of his declining health. We continued to call for his release from house arrest, and we were saddened to hear of his death in custody. We were also tremendously inspired by his continued courage in standing up for Democracy and Human Rights during the last thirty years of his life, even when facing detention and total isolation under arrest.