Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Chinese Monk Resigns Over Sex Abuse
The high-ranking Chinese monk accused of coercing nuns into have sex with him has resigned as chairman of the Buddhist Association of China, the South China Morning Post reports. Xuecheng denies the allegation and will remain the abbot of Longquan Temple in Beijing, where he is also accused of embezzling funds.
Korea’s Corrupt Buddhist Leader Finally Goes, Too
Speaking of resignations, the head of South Korea’s Jogye Order has finally stepped down after announcing his decision to do so in early August then bizarrely changing his mind last week, according to Korea JoongAng Daily. The Ven. Seoljeong’s reversal resulted in a vote of no confidence by the organization’s executive council. “I came forward in order to change Korean Buddhism for the better, but now I will return to the mountains with this goal unattained,” he said in a press conference on Wednesday. Seoljeong has been accused of faking his credentials, fathering a daughter despite a vow of celibacy, and embezzlement.
Indian Villagers Find Rare 14th Century Buddha Statue
Villagers in Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have dug up a 14th century Buddha sculpture, the Indian site the News Minute reports. Sivanagi Reddy of the nonprofit Cultural Centre Vijayawada told the news site that the statue, which was found in the village of Eturu, is an unusual discovery. “Such a huge statue has never been recovered in south India. Also, the statue has Buddha meditating in Vajrasanam (meditation posture) with flames behind his head, which is rare,” Reddy said. The statue was identified as Amitabha Buddha, the buddha of immeasurable light popular in the Pure Land tradition. The 6-foot-3-inch statue was unearthed when villagers were digging to lay a boddu rai, a stone believed to guard the village, according to the news site.
Facebook Ditches Discriminatory Ad Words
Buddhism is among 5,000 ad targeting words that Facebook has removed after the organization determined that the terms were being used to discriminate by race, religion, or culture, Ad Age reports. The social media company had previously allowed ads to target or avoid targeting people according to their interest in things such as “Passover, Evangelicalism, Native American culture, Islamic culture, Buddhism, and much more,” Ad Age writes. This allowed some users to avoid sending ads for a job opportunity, for example, to someone from a group they disliked. In a blog post, Facebook wrote, “While these options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimizing the risk of abuse is more important.”
China Denies Tibetan Activist’s Appeal
China has rejected the appeal of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk, who is serving a five-year prison sentence after pushing for Tibetan language classes in public schools. He was officially charged with inciting separatism. The appeal was rejected on Aug. 13, according to the International Tibet Network. “China’s rejection of Tashi Wangchuk’s appeal is a travesty of justice and shows a disdain for the international concern that the case has raised,” said Tenzin Jigdal of the Tibetan rights group in a press release.
UN Denied “Effective Access” in Myanmar
The United Nations says that it cannot do its job in Myanmar’s Rakhine state—where military violence forced 700,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority to flee their homes for refugee camps in Bangladesh—because authorities there have excessively limited and delayed their access, Reuters reports. Knut Ostby, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar told the news service that the United Nations had declined to work under the country’s restrictions and will send in experts once they are granted “effective access.” “We need to have the possibility to do a proper job,” he said.
US Issues Myanmar Sanctions
The United States has issued sanctions on four Myanmar security officials and two military units over the country’s human rights abuses, Politico reports. “Burmese security forces have engaged in violent campaigns against ethnic minority communities across Burma, including ethnic cleansing, massacres, sexual assault, extrajudicial killings, and other serious human rights abuses,” said Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. The sanctions were levied under the Global Magnitsky Act for the crimes against the Rohingya as well as minority ethnic groups in the Kachin and Shan states.