Sexually abused by a monk, a survivor speaks out


This video from the USA says about itself:

Zen Buddhism Sex Abuse Scandal

16 November 2013

Even Zen masters can be deviants. Inside the new book that unearths a disturbing pattern of affairs at the top of one of the largest Buddhist communities in the U.S…

Read more here.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

‘The monk patted me on my head, I was not used to that’

Today, 16:30

by Bas de Vries, NOS Net editor

He has never told the story to anyone. Even his wife does not know he has been abused by a Thai Buddhist monk in the second half of the 1970s when he was a 12-year-old in Waalwijk. “Or maybe I was even younger, I was in any case still in elementary school.” We will call him Huub, but that’s not his real name.

Huub did not like it at home. Therefore, he wandered about the streets. He became fascinated by the corner house a few hundred meters away. A temple where a large golden Buddha statue stood in the living room. Sometimes there were festivities and then the whole Talmastraat street was full of people in orange robes. Not exactly a commonplace spectacle for a little boy in Waalwijk of those years.

Bare feet

One day, one of those Thai men spoke to him. The monk was still relatively young. “At least not as old as those dirty old men you saw in the abuse cases in the Catholic Church.” The monk asked Huub if he wanted to come inside. He walked barefoot in slippers. Huub only now knows from the publicity of the past few days he was Mettavihari, the monk who – as far as is known now – in twenty years abused certainly dozens of young men and minors.

Huub was timid, but also very curious. So he went into that “strange-smelling” house. Huub got a cup of lemonade. To truly have a conversation with the five or six men there was not possible; he spoke no English. But that friendly smiling monk patted him on the head a few times. “And that did something with me. I experienced it as a form of love. I was not used to that at home. He seduced me completely.”

Fifteen minutes later he was outside again. With some brochures about Buddhism. Without pictures, just text. In this incomprehensible English.

A few times he went back. And still he got that lemonade again. Huub remembers that he thought: this house is built exactly in the same way as ours. A temple in a private house. The third or fourth time he had to go upstairs to the bedroom of the monk.

He starts crying uncontrollably when he tells what happened next. “I had to masturbate him. The expression is ‘as if transfixed to the ground’, but I was transfixed to the ground. Then I ran back down the stairs as fast as I could. Downstairs there were still the same five men.”

“I never went back. That temple a few years later moved to another street. I have very bad memories of that house. I live somewhere else now, but in my neighborhood there is a Buddhist center on a main street. If at all possible, I try not to drive along there.”

Shameful

He never told police about this. Once he went to the police in Waalwijk because of ill-treatment by his stepfather. But the abuse by the monk, he did tell them then. It was too shameful. “I just did not dare.”

“I have always kept this nasty experience to myself, but when those Catholic church affairs began to become known, then it all came back. I saw the news on the NOS [about other Buddhist clerical abuse cases] and I thought: I have been there as well!

Islamic poetess against ISIS


23-year-old Sana al-Yemen recites a poem at anti-war conference in London, May 2009 (photo: MEE)

From Middle East Eye:

‘A message written in blood’ – British poet takes on Islamic State

After writing a poem attacking preachers calling on Muslims in Europe to take up arms in the Middle East, Sana al-Yemen found herself at the centre of a media frenzy

Tom Finn

Wednesday 20 May 2015 11:40 BST

Last update: Thursday 21 May 2015 11:58 BST

Hours after Sana al-Yemen posted a video of herself last month reciting a poem about the Islamic State (IS) on YouTube her phone started to ring.

This video says about itself:

This is not my Islam: A message to ISIS and all extremists

3 February 2015

The Muslim Vibe presents ‘This is not my Islam’ by Sanasiino. A spoken word poem speaking out against the hijacking and tarnishing of the name of Islam, by extremist militants such as ISIS and others. (Arabic subtitles available).

The Tom Finn article continues:

A producer at Al-Jazeera news channel who had seen the clip wanted to interview her. Minutes later CNN called, then the BBC. Sana’s poem, a blistering attack on the militant group that has overrun large parts of Syria and Iraq, had gone viral.

“It just exploded. Hundreds of strangers started messaging me saying how much they appreciated the poem… I got a message of support from a soldier in the US army. It’s been crazy,” said Sana.

While the Islamic State has stirred fear – at times hysteria – amongst people in the West and the Middle East, the militant group’s rise to prominence has also prompted a cultural backlash.

Through soap operas, rock musiccartoonssatire and parody Twitter accounts, young Arabs have used art and humour to denounce IS.

Sana, a 23-year-old journalism graduate who was born in Yemen and raised in west London, wrote her first poem about the Islamic State last year after a friend sent her an IS propaganda video showing young British recruits bombing tanks and carrying out drive-by shootings in northern Iraq.

“There are plenty of people my age, from my area in fact, who have left and gone to Syria,” Sana explained on a recent afternoon in a juice bar near London’s Oxford Street.

“People are obsessed with knowing who these men are and what went wrong in their lives. But for me it comes down to who it is they’re listening to. Who are the religious figures giving them that push to leave their lives here in Britain?”

In a video of her poem This is not my Islam: a message to ISIS, Sana appears in a dimly lit room. Dressed in jeans and a purple headscarf, a shadow across her face, she denounces what she calls “layman preachers,” clerics who cite religion to encourage Muslims in Europe to take up arms in the Middle East.

“My crusade is against those who manipulate the message. Split my people in half and misguide the masses,” she recites, staring at the camera as images of young men with beards – IS recruits in Syria – and radical Saudi clerics delivering angry sermons flash across the screen.

Sipping at a banana smoothie, Sana smiles and glances at her phone. She speaks in the same careful way she recites her poetry; pausing for thought, then unleashing words in rapid fire.

“I wanted to get this message across to preachers… to tell them that, despite their religious education, playing with people’s emotions – dashing in a verse from the Quran – it’s manipulative and unethical. It’s not religious guidance, it’s a way of getting what you want politically.”

“I’m wary of religious sheikhs who are involved in politics, because of who they are aligned with. They have relationships with politicians.”

Spreading the message

Sana moved to the UK in 1991 with her father, an architect who worked under the British in occupied south Yemen.

She grew up on a housing estate in West London. Her life, she says, was rooted in “British society but infused with Arab culture”.

As a teenager she was an introvert. She stayed at home on the weekends and wrote poetry in a book she kept under her bed, “mainly about life and friendship… If I got depressed, it was my line of expression,” she said.

She admired American rapper Eminem. “I like how he plays with words and their properties, splitting language into musical bits. He has flow.”

In 2010 Sana started sharing online the poems she’d written about women’s rights, US drone strikes, the Israel/Palestine conflict and the rise of the right in British politics.

In one poem, Mr BNP, she challenges the anti-immigration policies of the far-right British National Party: “I tell you what, I’ll wear my hijab, I’ll risk it, because regardless I’m more British than your tea and biscuit.”

This poetry video is called Sanasino-Mr BNP.

Later she released “My name is not Irak” which laments the destruction inflicted on Iraq after the 2003 US/UK invasion and mocks the American pronunciation “I-rak” (“The difference is one is an American fake, and the other is Arab, genuine and great”).

When uprisings broke out across the Arab world in 2011, Sana and a group of “politically minded young Arabs” began organising rallies outside Arab embassies in London in solidarity with protesters in the Middle East.

“It was a shock… we’d been constricted for so long as a people. Seeing women on the frontlines in Yemen, as a poet it fired me up. I wanted to write more…spread the message,” she said.

In 2012, as many of the Arab uprisings descended into civil war and sectarian strife, Sana’s revolutionary crowd started to splinter.

“It got complicated, suddenly there were all these divisions and difference of opinions between us,” she said.

“Some were pro Egypt’s revolutionary, but anti-Syrian. When the Arab Spring got really complicated people didn’t want to be involved anymore.”

This video says about itself:

10 December 2011

Yemeni poet, activist and journalist Sanasino reciting her poem “Mr BNP” for Revolutionary Rhymes.

The Tom Finn article continues:

‘A ripple effect’

Her poem about Islamic State has not been without criticism. IS sympathisers on Twitter, who Sana refers to as “trolls”, have called her poem misguided.

Others, pointing out that only Sunni and not Shia preachers feature in her video, accused her of being sectarian.

Sheikh Mohamed al-Areifi, a Salafist cleric from Saudi Arabia who has been accused of encouraging young British Muslims to head to Syria and Iraq, appears three times in the clip.

With over 9 million followers, al-Areifi is the most followed individual on Twitter in the Middle East. He has said a huge conflict in Syria “will herald the end of the world”.

“I understand that al-Areifi has respect within the Muslim community around the world but he was one of the most vocal in trying to engage the youth and encouraging them to leave their homes and go to Syria,” said Sana.

“The fact that he was inciting our youth, to go out there to Syria while his own kids were in his home, is something that annoyed me a lot.”

Sana finishes her smoothie. Her thumb pauses above her phone, before flicking downwards as she hunts for a message in her inbox.

“Here it is,” she reads it out. “Thank you. It’s good to see a strong Muslim woman on camera.”

Asked if she feels there are stereotypes about Muslim women in the UK she says: “Definitely, the only thing you hear about is how oppressed we are; I’m definitely not oppressed,” she says laughing. “Neither are my family members. I’m glad I’m breaking the stereotypes.

Women banned from driving, after Saudi Arabia, London


This September 2011 video from the USA is about women in Saudi Arabia.

Do I really have to point out to those ultra-orthodox rabbis in London, that, just like the ban on women driving cars is not in the Quran (not even in the Saudi royal family‘s copies of the Quran … well, it is not Saudi law either … but still, Saudi women get flogged and jailed for driving), it is not in the Torah, or in the Talmud, either …

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Leaders of Jewish Hasidic sect in Stamford Hill ‘ban’ women from driving

Letter signed by Belz rabbis also reportedly said children driven to school by women would be banned from classes

Heather Saul

Thursday 28 May 2015

The leaders of an Orthodox Jewish sect in north London have reportedly declared that women should not be allowed to drive in a letter sent out to the community.

Rabbis from the Belz Hasidic sect in Stamford Hill have said women driving cars contravenes “the traditional rules of modesty in our camp” and goes against the conventions of hasidic institutions, according to a report by the Jewish Chronicle (JC)

The letter, which was signed by Belz educational leaders, also said women would be banned from their schools if their mothers drove them there from August.

It cited increasing numbers of “mothers of pupils who have started to drive” which it said had led to “great resentment among parents of pupils of our institutions”.

Stamford Hill’s residents are predominately Hasidic Jewish and only New York is believed to have a larger community of Hasidic Jews outside of Israel.

Dina Brawer, UK Ambassador of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, confirmed she had seen a copy of the letter to The Independent.

“The instinct behind such a draconian ban is one of power and control, of men over women,” she told JC. “In this sense it is no different from the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia. That it masquerades as a halachic imperative is shameful and disturbing.”

‘British politician abused children’


This video from Britain says about itself:

Esther Baker abused by Politician/s, Judges, Police

26 May 2015

Police say they are “in the early stages” of investigating claims that a woman was sexually abused while she was a young girl, as uniformed police officers stood guard.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

VIP paedophile ring allegations: woman waives anonymity to accuse politician

Esther Baker alleges politician was in group whose influential members abused young girls in Cannock Chase in 1980s and 90s

Josh Halliday

Tuesday 26 May 2015 16.35 BST

A woman has waived her right to lifelong anonymity to allege that a well-known politician was part of a VIP paedophile ring that sexually abused children in the Staffordshire countryside in the 1980s and 90s.

Esther Baker, 32, said the politician was in a group whose influential members routinely abused young girls in Cannock Chase as uniformed police officers stood guard.

In an interview with the Guardian, Baker said she had identified several of her abusers – including the politician – to police after summoning the courage to speak out.

“I’ve spoken out because I hope witnesses will come forward,” she said. “I know what it’s like to be the first one to come out and speak about it, it’s scary but I felt almost forced to come forward to protect myself. Once it’s out there there’s no point them trying to shut me up.”

Baker’s alleged abusers are among more than 1,400 suspects – including 261 high-profile individuals – being investigated as part of an unprecedented nationwide police operation stretching back decades.

Baker, who lives in Liverpool, has given graphic and detailed testimony to detectives in interviews spanning 33 hours. A further 18 hours of evidence-giving has been planned, with detectives considering taking her back to Cannock Chase where she was abused over 20 years ago.

The 32-year-old broke her silence in an interview with Sky News on Tuesday morning. Since it aired, she has been inundated with support from fellow child abuse survivors.

Baker told the Guardian she was first abused by the politician when she was around six years old. Working with police, she has established that the abuse continued until she was at least 11.

Detectives have been told that the politician, who is still alive and of the current political era, would make her sit on his knee while she played the piano and on other occasions sexually abused her on Cannock Chase fields. He cannot be named for legal reasons.

She says she believes a lord and a judge were also involved because their titles would be mentioned while the attacks were taking place. “I was brought up in a religious household and … I thought they were on God’s authority,” she said.

“I knew they were important but I always thought they were more important in the church. That’s what I related it to at the time. But I knew there were ones that were more special than others.”

A small group of police officers, some uniformed, stood guard while the abuse was taking place, she said, and other times they would join in. One of the officers she recognised from church.

On one occasion Baker tried to flee the abuse but was chased and caught by one of the officers standing guard. He told her he was sorry, she said, but still took her back to where the attacks were taking place.

She now believes the officers could hold vital information about the abuse meted out to children in Cannock Chase.

Asked whether she had a message for other child abuse survivors and witnesses, she said: “Just that it’s time to come forward. If we all come forward then they can’t stop us now. They could back then but they can’t now if we all come forward.”

In a highly unorthodox statement, Jon Drake, assistant chief constable of Staffordshire police, underlined how seriously the force was taking Baker’s allegations when he said officers recognised “the horrific nature of what we are investigating”.

He said: “Staffordshire police is in the early stages of investigating a number of very serious allegations from the 1980s and 90s. Specially trained officers are carrying out a number of interviews with the victim to build up an understanding of what took place, and her recollections of all those involved.”

Drake said detectives were determined to thoroughly gather any evidence that would help bring offenders to justice. He added: “To be clear, regardless of role, anyone who has been involved in criminal offences will be investigated to provide justice for the victim.

Child abuse is a terrible crime, whenever it occurs. We are keen to hear from anyone who knows more about the allegations, or any other victim of child sexual abuse, and they can contact the police through 101, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

“In this specific case the victim has made the decision to waive her right to anonymity. Staffordshire police wants to reassure anyone who has been a victim of any form of child or sexual abuse that their anonymity will be protected.”

Baker is receiving ongoing support from Merseyside-based group the Lantern Project, which offers counselling and advocacy to survivors of child sexual abuse.

Police last week revealed the enormous scale of alleged child abuse they are investigating. Ch Const Simon Bailey said 1,433 men – including 76 politicians, 43 music stars and 135 TV, film or radio entertainers – have been identified by abuse survivors.

Gabrielle Shaw, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, lauded Baker’s bravery and said her decision to speak out would help others come forward.

“For everyone that does speak out it chips away at the wall of untouchability that victims feel their abusers have,” she said. “There has been a stark sea change in attitudes to survivors who have come forward since 2013, in the post-Savile era.

“Ten or 15 years ago the response would have been very different – she wouldn’t have been believed – but Staffordshire police have taken it very seriously.”

Buddhist clerical sexual abuse in the Netherlands


This video from Thailand, with English subtitles, says about itself:

2 March 2014

Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation (Thailand) produced this video to campaign for laws against possessing child sexual abuse material and raising awareness of foreigners arrested in Thailand for child sex abuse jumping bail.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Sexual abuse among Buddhists in Netherlands

Today, 15:56

By NOS-Net editor Bas de Vries

Buddhist monks and teachers in the Netherlands have been guilty in recent decades of sexual abuse of students, both men and women. In some cases the victims were minors. There are abuse scandals in, eg, Waalwijk, Middelburg and Makkinga (Friesland province).

People have been silent about the abuse for decades in some cases. But after the scandals in the Catholic Church now victims of abuse by Buddhist leaders are telling their stories.

Thai monk

In recent months, the NOS spoke together with Buddhism scholar Rob Hogendoorn, among others with three victims of a Thai monk who after his arrival in the Netherlands in the 1970s for at least twenty years abused young men or attempted to do so.

This Mettavihari, according to those involved, in the early 1980s had to leave his temple in Waalwijk. The reason is said to have been a message to the police about the molestation of a minor.

Earlier this month a number of Mettavihari’s former followers decided, after a silence of decades, to speak out about “repeated inappropriate behavior”. Their statement shows that they have already known this for decades. The reason to speak out now, according to them, is that their recent own research showed that the abuse was worse than they thought until now.

Scandals

This affair of Mettavihari, deceased in 2007, does not stand alone. The NOS also investigated two other major scandals involving teachers abusing their dominant position with respect to often very vulnerable students. In both cases, the people involved went to the police, but ultimately did not lodge official complaints. Those issues were in various places.

– A Buddhist center in Middelburg, where ‘Kelsang Chöpel’ (the Austrian Gerhard Mattioli) was guilty in the period 2001-2008 of harassment and sexual abuse of female students. In minutes of the Buddhist Union of the Netherlands (BUN) the former president spoke of “a self-proclaimed lama (teacher) who in a horrible way has wreaked havoc.” The BUN sent several people to speak with the victims and gave no further publicity to the scandal.

– A monastery in the Frisian Makkinga. End of 2001, ‘Dhammawiranatha’ (then again Pierre Krul from Den Haag) resigned as a monk after he was confronted with the many sexual relationships he had entered with women. Also in this case the people involved appealed to the BUN. A board member noted: “The stories were truly staggering: brainwashing, instigation, ruining financially, sexual relationships with (usually mentally dependent) women, but also with very young, underage girls.” This issue is the only one which made it to the press. The website of his organization gives the impression that Krul in any case last year was still active as a teacher.

Also very recently, there were cases of abuse in Buddhist circles. The Buddhist teacher Frank Uyttebroeck reports that since 2010 at least five other people who were abused by five different teachers, have sought help from him. Two of them were so traumatized that he referred them to the medical community. He does not mention the names of these teachers, in his own words because he had pledged that to the victims.

Culture of silence

The victims who are willing to come out think the time is now to end the culture of silence, as has happened in the Catholic Church. They cite the example of the United States, where hundreds of Zen teachers last January published an open letter in which they offered their apologies for their “collective failure” in the fight against abuse.

Professor of practical theology Ruard Ganzevoort, specializing in religion and trauma, is not surprised that now among the Buddhists this problem is surfacing. “You can see in every religious tradition that if you bring vulnerable people in contact with people reputed to have much authority, with too little oversight, abuse will occur.”

Codes of conduct

Most Buddhist organizations in the Netherlands are now beginning to think about measures to stop sexual abuse in their own circles and to help victims better. After questions by the NOS about this the executive of the Buddhist Union in the Netherlands recently sent an appeal to the more than forty affiliated centers.

In it, the BUN, the contact point of the Dutch government for the 50,000 to 65,000 Buddhists in the Netherlands, poins out the importance of precautions. “For example, through confidants, codes of conduct or otherwise.” The administration warns individual Buddhists “to orientate well and think” before they join a particular organization or teacher.

“I want to particularly say this to make it clear that you should act immediately if something is wrong,” said Patrick Franssen, who was abused in the 1970s from his 19th year in his own words forty to fifty times by Mettavihari. “You have to stop it early, otherwise even worse things will happen. And do not be afraid of negative publicity. Buddhism can take criticism, it is much larger than these issues.”

The Dalai Lama and sexual abuse among Buddhists: here.

Irish people vote for equal marriage rights


This video from Ireland says about itself:

Vote YES to Marriage Equality

8 May 2015

Sinn Féin video featuring Gerry Adams TD, Councillor Emma Murphy and Mayor of Dublin South, Fintan Warfield calling on people to vote Yes to Marriage Equality on May 22nd.

Irish marriage equality supporters rejoice today

From RTÉ News in Ireland:

Ireland says Yes to same-sex marriage

Saturday 23 May 2015 18.32

Ireland has voted Yes to same-sex marriage, with just a handful of constituencies yet to declare results.

Large crowds have been gathering at Dublin Castle to hear the final official result, which is expected about 6pm.

A number of campaigners against the marriage referendum congratulated the Yes side on its campaign early today.

The first official constituency result was declared in Sligo-North Leitrim with 53.57% there voting Yes and 46.43% voting No.

The highest Yes vote so far, at almost 75%, has been declared in Dublin South East.

One constituency has voted No; the result in Roscommon-South Leitrim saw over 51% of voters there reject the marriage referendum proposal. …

Former Labour party leader Eamon Gilmore stood over his comments made in mid-2012, that gay marriage was “the civil rights issue of a generation”.

He said this referendum “was a moment where Irish people expressed their decency and their generosity”. …

Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland Mary Cunningham praised a new generation of voters for making a difference.

“It represents a victory not only for the Yes side, but also for Irish society, Irish democracy and the young people of Ireland,” she said.

“This result sends a strong message to young people across Ireland that they are valued equally; and that we want to promote respect and eliminate homophobia.”

Yes Equality spokesperson Grainne Healy said: “It’s an extraordinary day.

“We were going out not telling people to vote Yes, we were going out saying I am voting yes and I’d like to tell you why. That’s how the campaign started and that’s how it has worked.”…

Church needs a reality check – Archbishop

Speaking to RTÉ News, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said that the Catholic Church [which had campaigned for a No vote] needs “to have a reality check across the board”.

He said that he appreciates how gay and lesbian people feel.

“This is a social revolution that did not begin today”, he said, adding that it had been going for quite a while.

Archbishop Martin said that the church has a huge task in getting its message out to young people.

“The church needs to ask itself if it has completely drifted away from young people,” he said.

He added that most people who voted Yes went to Catholic schools for 12 years, so “there is a big challenge for us to get the message of the Catholic church across”.

Also from RTÉ News in Ireland today:

18:30

Anti Austerity Alliance TDs Joe Higgins, Ruth Coppinger and Paul Murphy have welcomed the result of the same-sex marriage referendum.

Mr Higgins said: “Today is a historic day for [the] LGBTQ community in Ireland and internationally. Today’s victory is the culmination of decades of struggle which has forced this government and conservative elements in the establishment to hold this referendum.”

Ruth Coppinger said “We must now fight as a society for the full separation of church and state. Today’s result shows that the church’s massive control of health and education is out of kilter with the consciousness of the majority in society.”

Paul Murphy said “One of the key characteristics from this referendum has been the massive votes delivered by working class communities, and young people. Many people in working class areas who have never voted have become politicised over the last few years of austerity and turned out in massive numbers to vote for equality.”

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands, which interviwed a mother of a gay son in Dublin, Ireland:

“My son is 38 years old. Only five years he dared to come out as gay. In that atmosphere he had grown up, thanks to the church,” said a female voter.

The church has lost a lot of credit because of the abuse scandals in recent years. “I want my son to be happy,” said the woman. “He does not harm anyone and he is not a pedophile. Not everyone in the church can say that.”

Don’t be blinded by the Yes vote: Ireland is still oppressing its LGBT population. Equal marriage is too often conflated with absolute LGBT equality but the reality continues to be alarming: here.