It is with great sadness the Rafto Foundation received the news that the most venerable Thích Quảng Độ, Rafto laureate 2006, passed away on Saturday 22nd February, aged 93. As a Buddhist monk, dissident, scholar and patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) he dedicated his life to the promotion of democracy, human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam.
There will come a time when the [Vietnamese] authorities will be unable to silence all of the people all of the time. The moment will come when the people will rise up, like water bursting its banks, and speak with one voice to demand democracy and human rights. The government will be unable to ignore their demands, and will have to face up to this reality. Then, the situation in Vietnam will be forced to change, and a democratic process will emerge. (Thích Quảng Độ, Radio Free Asia).
As a human rights defender Thích Quảng Độ payed a heavy price. He was persecuted, imprisoned and tortured. He has spent the last three decades in house arrest and has been under close government control and surveillance until his very last moment.
-Thich Quang Do’s non-violent struggle for human rights, democracy and religious freedom will continue to be a great inspiration to the Rafto Foundation and to his many followers in Vietnam and internationally. He will be deeply missed by the entire Family of Rafto Laureates, that he was such an important part of, despite his isolation. We will contribute to keeping his legacy alive, says Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt, Executive Director of the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights.
Thích Quảng Độ was never allowed by Vietnamese authorities to travel to Norway to receive the Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize in 2006. Therese Jebsen of the Rafto Foundation was arrested and interrogated by Security Police when she came to the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery to hand Thích Quảng Độ the Award diploma.
Read more about Thích Quảng Độ here.
The moment will come when the people will rise up, like water bursting its banks, and speak with one voice to demand democracy and human rights.