On the Buddhism Beat: From Jakarta to Indiana

ontbbbA Buddhist holiday is our top story this week, dear readers. That’s right, it’s time once again for Kathina—the Theravada Buddhist holiday marks the end of the rains retreat, and is the main time for alms-giving in the tradition. We point you to stories this week about observations in locations as far apart as rural Indiana and Jakarta!

Otherwise, it has been a fairly slow news week. This is not to say, however, that what developments occurred were not worthy of your attention. Quite the contrary, in fact: Burma’s ruling military junta is making what some read as conciliatory overtures, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama had some frank talk about the situation in Tibet after China acknowledged that it had executed two Tibetans for their role in last year’s protests in Lhasa, for example. It’s a quick read this time around, but make sure you take note of these items!

BURMA

  • Reuters reports that “Asian leaders [are expressing] rare optimism in [Burma’s junta], from hopes of stability on its volatile northern border to signs of softening attitude towards detained pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.”
  • This week, “more than 100 groups and political parties across 20 countries” participated in the Shwe Gas Movement petition, urging China to “halt its investment in [a gas project in Burma] over fears of abuses and unrest.”
  • Imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate and democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer says she is “aware of an upcoming visit by two American officials and supports the new U.S. policy of engaging [the country’s ruling military junta].”

INDONESIA

  • The Jakarta Globe reports on Kathina festival celebrations at the oldest Theravada Buddhist monastery in the capitol city.

SINGAPORE

SRI LANKA

  • Amnesty International USA reports that two editors at the Sunday Leader “received identical death threats in the mail, handwritten in red ink…The threats relate to coverage by the paper of a video which allegedly showed Sri Lankan soldiers executing Tamil prisoners.”

THAILAND

  • More deaths are being reported in the restive south. As Reuters notes in their coverage, “over 3,600 people have been killed in five years of unrest…in the three provinces, part of a Muslim sultanate until annexed a century ago by predominantly Buddhist Thailand.”

TIBET

  • As we reported last week, the Chinese government has been loudly protesting about His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to a region of India that they claim as their own.  Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh responded this week, saying, “the Dalai Lama is our honored guest.”
  • His Holiness is now in Japan, at the invitation of the Shikoku Buddhist Association and Okinawa Mahabodhi Association.
  • Shortly after arriving, His Holiness told reporters that he felt China was “misleading” the world about their rule of Tibet.
  • China, meanwhile, has stepped up security in the region, saying that their fight against “separatism” remains “very serious.”
  • In a related story, the Chinese government confirmed reports that two Tibetan were executed for their roles in last year’s unrest in Lhasa.
  • In response, a group of Tibetan monks and nuns in Dharamsala went on a hunger strike to raise awareness of the executions.
  • A total of fourteen Tibetan youths were arrested in separate incidents in India during Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jeichi’s visit to Bangalore.
  • In other, lighter Tibet-related news, Lhasa Beer is “ramping up exports to the United States amid strong demand.”
  • An 11-year-old Bostonian (a Red Sox fan!) has been recognized as the second reincarnation of Gyalwa Lorepa of the Drukpa Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Lastly, in a ceremony organized by the 2009 PeaceJam Conference, three Nobel Peace laureates (Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, and Mairead Corrigan Maguire) honored His Holiness and the Tibetan people

THE UNITED STATES

  • The Indiana Buddhist Temple recently celebrated the Kathina festival in rural Hoagland.

VIETNAM

  • Thich Chan Phap Dung, abbot of the Thich Nhat Hanh-affiliate Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, Calif., calls for an end to the crackdown on Order of Interbeing members at Hanoi’s Bat Nha Monastery.

[Photo above via here.]

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