Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
The Rohingya Crisis One Year Later
It’s been more than one year since the Myanmar military’s violent crackdown on the Rohingya people caused hundreds of thousands of the Muslim ethnic minority to flee their homes in the Rakhine State for refugee camps in Bangladesh. This week, a United Nation’s report accused the government force known as the Tatmadaw of genocide, saying their human rights abuses “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law.” The report from the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar argued, “Military necessity would never justify killing indiscriminately, gang raping women, assaulting children, and burning entire villages. The Tatmadaw’s tactics are consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats, especially in Rakhine State, but also in northern Myanmar.” In response to the report, some wondered if Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi should lose her Nobel Peace Prize. But the Norwegian Nobel Committee said she was given the prize for “her fight for democracy and freedom up until 1991” and that their rules do not allow the award to be withdrawn, the Irish Times reports. This week, Facebook also banned pages run by the Myanmar military, calling the ethnic violence “truly horrific” and admitting that they had been “too slow to act.” On the anniversary of the violence, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also condemned the Myanmar government on Twitter.
A year ago, following deadly militant attacks, security forces responded by launching abhorrent ethnic cleansing of ethnic #Rohingya in Burma. The U.S. will continue to hold those responsible accountable. The military must respect human rights for #Burma’s democracy to succeed.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) August 26, 2018
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s military has published a book attempting to rewrite the history of the Rohingya people, including fake historical photos, the Guardian reports. The 117-page “Myanmar Politics and the Tatmadaw: Part I” claims that the photos show Rohingya people killing Buddhists and sneaking into Myanmar, but a review of the images by Reuters found that they actually depict clashes during Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war and a group of Rohingya fleeing Myanmar.
Shaolin Temple Raises Chinese Flag for the First Time
Monks at the Shaolin Temple held a ceremony raising the Chinese flag—the first time in its history that such a political display has taken place, the South China Morning Post reports. The event was part of a larger patriotism drive in the country. The temple’s abbot, Shi Yongxin, who is also vice-president of the state-run Buddhist Association of China (BAC), said in a statement that he decided to hold the ceremony during a BAC conference, the paper reports.
Temple Vandal Arrested in Possible Hate Crime
A woman has been arrested for allegedly vandalizing seven Buddhist temples in California’s Orange County, the Orange County Register (OCR) reports. Trang Thu Pham, 49, of Santa Ana, is accused of committing $67,000 worth of damage by chopping off the hands of statues and stealing donation boxes and religious items, according to Newsweek. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is considering pressing hate crime charges, he said at news conference at Santa Ana’s Chua Bao Quang Temple, one of the sites of the vandalism. “More so than just the damage to the statues, these kinds of crimes are things that attack our core values,” he said, according to the OCR.
Dalai Lama Pays Tribute to Late Sen. John McCain
Following the death this week of Sen. John McCain, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote a letter to his wife, Cindy McCain, offering his condolences, according to the Dalai Lama’s website. “I had the pleasure of meeting your husband in 2008 in Aspen after long admiring his many years of dedicated service to the American people,” he wrote. “I appreciated his genuine concern for democracy, human rights, and the environment in general and particularly in Tibet, for which I remain grateful.” You can watch footage from their 2008 meeting below:
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