Reuters blog archive
China on Thursday defended its treatment of Tibetan monks it says are undergoing re-education, responding to a U.N. inquiry about what exiled Tibetans have called the forced disappearance of hundreds of monks.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the monks had not been detained illegally, and urged U.N. human rights investigators to act without prejudice. "It is legal to supervise religious affairs, and protect normal religious order. This issue of forced disappearance fundamentally does not exist," Hong told reporters at a regular press briefing.
U.N. human rights investigators called on China to reveal the "fate and whereabouts" of more than 300 monks who disappeared after being rounded up by security forces at a monastery in Aba prefecture of the southwestern province of Sichuan in April.
(A young Tibetan monk walks around the courtyard at the Namo Monastery on the outskirts of Kangding in Sichuan province February 23, 2009/David Gray)
Security forces have detained about 300 Tibetan monks from a monastery in southwestern China for a month amid a crackdown sparked by a monk's self-immolation, two exiled Tibetans and a prominent writer said, citing sources there. Tension in Aba prefecture, a heavily ethnic Tibetan part of Sichuan province, have risen to their highest levels since protests turned violent in March 2008, ahead of the Beijing Olympics, and were put down by police and paramilitary units.
The monks from Aba's Kirti monastery, home to about 2,500 monks, were taken into custody on April 21 on military trucks, according to two exiled monks and a writer, who said their information was based on separate accounts from witnesses who live in Aba.
from Russell Boyce:
As India heads towards their Republic Day celebrations, Prime Minister Singh makes minor adjustments to his cabinet while outside on the streets people demonstrate over food and fuel price inflation and corruption. Adnan Abidi produces a great picture as a middle-aged demonstrator gets to feel the full force of a police water canon. In stark contrast, B Mathur gets a glimpse of the dress rehearsal of the full military parade planned to celebrate India's independence where the security forces are deployed in a somewhat different manner. Danish Siddiqui added to the file this week with a well seen picture to illustrate a government spending initiative with a man pulling a pipe across a building site, the shadow creating an eye like image that almost seems to wink at the viewer.
Police use water canons to disperse supporters of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during a protest in New Delhi January 18, 2011. Thousands of the supporters on Tuesday in New Delhi held a protest against a recent hike in petrol prices and high inflation. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
(Photo: Nuns waiting for Pope Benedict at a Catholic school in London, 17 Sept 2010/Kevin Coombs)
Visiting a Catholic school in London on Friday, Pope Benedict said teachers should give their pupils not only marketable skills but also wisdom, which he said was inseparable from knowledge of God. Catholic schools and Catholic religious teachers play an important part in transmitting this wisdom, he said. He also stressed the need to protect pupils from sexual predators.
Following are excerpts from his address to the teachers:
"I am pleased to have this opportunity to pay tribute to the outstanding contribution made by religious men and women in this land to the noble task of education... As you know, the task of a teacher is not simply to impart information or to provide training in skills intended to deliver some economic benefit to society; education is not and must never be considered as purely utilitarian. It is about forming the human person, equipping him or her to live life to the full – in short it is about imparting wisdom. And true wisdom is inseparable from knowledge of the Creator, for "both we and our words are in his hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts".
Thousands of Thais prayed for peace and unity in Bangkok on Wednesday, a week after a deadly military crackdown on protesters sparked a terrifying night of arson and riots that levelled buildings and killed 54 people.
A Buddhist-inspired Thai film has won the coveted Palme d'Or for best picture at the Cannes film festival. "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives," a mystical exploration of reincarnation as a well-to-do farmer confronts his imminent death, was directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
The seven members of a Trappist order, who lived in a monastery in Tibehirine south of Algiers, disappeared in 1996 during a savage wave of killings by both Islamist militants and government forces. Only their severed heads were ever recovered and the exact circumstances in which they died are unclear.
Burmese monks were beaten, jailed and killed while protesting Myanmar's military regime in 2007, and dozens found refuge in America. But now most have been forced to swap their saffron-colored robes for blue-collar workwear and abandon their monkhood out of a need to scratch out a living in their adopted land.
For centuries the Punakha Dzong monastic fortress in Bhutan's Himalayas has sheltered ancient Buddhist relics and scriptures from earthquakes, fires and Tibetan invasions. Now the lamas here may have met their match -- global warming.
At least 53 million cubic metres of glacier melt is threatening to break the banks of a lake upstream in the Himalayan peaks and spark a "mountain tsunami" in Punakha valley.