Dalai Lama: I knew of sex abuse by Buddhist teachers since 1990s

A Thai Buddhist monk carries a statue of Buddha as he waits with others to welcome Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama at the Tsuglagkhang temple in Dharmsala, India, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (AP)
Updated 16 September 2018
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Dalai Lama: I knew of sex abuse by Buddhist teachers since 1990s

  • Tibetan spiritual leaders are due to meet in Dharamshala in November

THE HAGUE: The Dalai Lama said Saturday that he has known about sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers since the 1990s and that such allegations are “nothing new.”
The Tibetan spiritual leader, revered by millions of Buddhists around the world, made the admission during a four-day visit to the Netherlands, where he met on Friday with victims of sexual abuse allegedly committed by Buddhist teachers.
He was responding to a call from a dozen of the victims who had launched a petition asking to meet him during his trip, part of a tour of Europe.
“We found refuge in Buddhism with an open mind and heart, until we were raped in its name,” the victims said in their petition.
“I already did know these things, nothing new,” the Dalai Lama said in response on Dutch public television NOS late Saturday.
“Twenty-five years ago... someone mentioned about a problem of sexual allegations” at a conference for western Buddhist teachers in Dharamshala, a hill town in northern India, he added.
The Dalai Lama, 83, lives in exile in Dharamshala.
People who commit sexual abuse “don’t care about the Buddha’s teaching. So now that everything has been made public, people may concern about their shame,” he said, speaking in English.
Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, a representative of the Tibetan spiritual leader in Europe, said Friday that the Dalai Lama “has consistently denounced such irresponsible and unethical behavior.”
Tibetan spiritual leaders are due to meet in Dharamshala in November.
“At that time they should talk about it,” the Dalai Lama said in his televised comments Saturday. “I think the religious leaders should pay more attention.”


US women detained for speaking Spanish sue border agency

In this Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, photo provided by the ACLU of Montana, Martha Hernandez, left, and Ana Suda pose in front of a convenience store in Havre, Mont., where they say they were detained by a U.S Border Patrol agent for speaking Spanish last year. (AP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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US women detained for speaking Spanish sue border agency

  • The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed suit against US Customs and Border Protection on behalf of the women, who live in Havre

LOS ANGELES: Two US women detained by a border patrol agent in the state of Montana after he heard them speaking Spanish in a grocery store have sued the country’s border protection agency.
Video of the incident — which took place last May in the small town of Havre — showed Agent Paul O’Neal tell Ana Suda and Martha Hernandez that he had asked to see their identification as it was unusual to hear Spanish speakers in the state, which borders Canada.
“It has to do with you guys speaking Spanish in the store in a state where it’s predominately English speaking,” he said.
“It’s not illegal, it’s just very unheard of up here,” he told the women.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed suit against US Customs and Border Protection on behalf of the women, who live in Havre.
Suda and Hernandez say in the lawsuit that O’Neal detained them for 40 minutes.
California native Hernandez and Suda, who was born in Texas, said they were standing in line to buy milk and eggs when the agent — who was standing behind them — commented on Hernandez’s accent, and asked the women where they were born.
“I asked, ‘Are you serious’?” Suda said, according to the lawsuit. “Agent O’Neal responded that he was ‘dead serious’.”
The two women say they were then asked to show identification and questioned outside the store, before eventually being released.
“The incident itself is part of a broader pattern that we’ve seen of abusive tactics by border patrol which has gotten worse since the Trump administration, which has left border patrol officers feeling emboldened to take actions like this,” Cody Wofsy, an attorney with the ACLU, told AFP.
“This has been devastating for (Suda and Hernandez),” he added.
“Havre is a small town, they felt ostracized and humiliated and made to feel unwelcome in their own town and in their own country.”
He noted the United States has no official language, with Spanish by far the most common language spoken after English.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesman declined to comment on the case.
“As a matter of policy, US Customs and Border Protection does not comment on pending litigation,” he told AFP in a statement. “However, lack of comment should not be construed as agreement or stipulation with any of the allegations.”