Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
New Fear for Tibetans after Nepal Signed Secret Extradition Treaty with China
In October, the governments of Nepal and China secretly signed an agreement saying that each country will hand over to the other nation’s authorities anyone detained for illegally crossing the border, posing a new danger to Tibetans and other persecuted groups attempting to flee China, the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said in a press release. The details of the deal, signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Nepal in October 2019, were only made public in late January, when Nepal’s minister of foreign affairs, Pradeep Gyawali, wrote to parliament to clarify their policy, according to the Nepal news outlet Khabarhub. Under the 20-point agreement, the countries have pledged to return any undocumented immigrants within seven days of their being arrested, Khabarhub reports.
After hearing about President Xi’s proposed extradition treaty in November, the co-chairs of the US Congress’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), wrote a letter to Nepal’s embassy pleading with them to reject the agreement and to protect Tibetan refugees. “Recognizing [Beijing’s] long-standing repression of Tibetans within its borders, we fear that an extradition treaty would be used by that government to persecute Tibetans living in Nepal,” they wrote. “We urge your government to halt deportations of Tibetans, to refrain from the use of preventive detention, and to register all Tibetan refugees living in Nepal.” According to the ICT, the Congress members never received a response.
Tibetan Nun Dies by Suicide in Chinese Internment Camp
An exiled Tibetan nun who died in an internment camp in China’s Sichuan province is said to have died by suicide, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). The nun’s name has not been made public, but an anonymous source told RFA that she was originally from Jomda County, in Tibet’s Chamdo prefecture. The nun had protested the camp’s “political re-education,” the source continued, even though her defiance resulted in beatings. Camp authorities had “developed a dislike for her attitude,” he said, adding that the nun was even beaten by doctors at a hospital after she refused to take any medication. Fearing for his safety, the source hung up before revealing any further details about how and when the nun ended her life.
Monks on Peace Walk Detained in India
They had set out to walk over 5,800 miles across Asia into Europe to promote peace. But 13 Buddhist monks who undertook this ambitious journey from Thailand to France were stopped at the India-Pakistan border by authorities who said they did not have permission to continue down their route. Indian police told the Hindustan Times that the monks had intended to cross into Pakistan through a restricted area in the Barmer district of the Indian state of Rajasthan, and that they had failed to show the required documents needed to cross the border. The group of monastics—12 Thai citizens and one Canadian, according to the Times of India—possessed visas to enter India and Pakistan but did not have the special permission required to travel through Barmer. A police official told the Hindustan Times that the monks were taken to a nearby hotel, where they must remain while officials consider their request. Phra Sutham Nateetong, the leader of the peace walk, said that the monks want to convey a message of happiness and love through their march. He completed a similar journey across the United States last year.
Korea’s Ven. Pomnyun Sunim Wins Peace Prize
A Japanese Buddhist peace prize has awarded this year’s honor to the South Korean monk, activist, and humanitarian Ven. Pomnyun Sunim, the Yonhap News Agency (YNA) reports.The 37th Niwano Peace Prize recognizes the Seon (Jp., Zen) master’s “long and broad commitment to advancing peace within a Buddhist framework, in partnership with those of other faiths,” the Niwano committee told YNA. Ven. Pomnyun’s Buddhist organization the Jungto Society and his international aid organization Join Together Society have a history of addressing issues like environmental degradation and poverty, and more recently the Rohingya refugee humanitarian crisis. The Niwano Peace Foundation, which operates under the auspices of Rissho Kosei Kai, a Japanese new religion founded in 1938, has awarded a peace prize almost every year since 1983 to individuals or organizations that have contributed to inter-religious cooperation and world peace. Past recipients include Cambodian Buddhist monk Maha Ghosananda, who helped to support Cambodian refugees and revive Buddhism in post-Communist Cambodia; Master Cheng Yen, the Taiwanese nun who founded the international charity Tzu Chi, which devotes itself to providing disaster relief and medicine in affected areas; Japanese Tendai monk Etai Yamada, who hosted an interfaith summit on Kyoto’s Mount Hiei, a historical center of Buddhist learning; and Sulak Sivaraksa, one of the founders of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB).