The largest Buddhist sect in Korea slammed Democratic Party (DP) legislators for recent remarks that minimized human rights abuses in Tibet.
The Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism issued a statement that said, “A person or a group of people representing a country visiting another country for whatever diplomatic purposes and participating in a dialogue or an event for unity, cooperation, and symbiosis is a good thing regardless of what the results are. However, “we cannot disguise our surprise and deep regret regarding comments [by the DP] that were either dismissive of human rights issues as being in the past or ignorant of human rights issues that are universally known, not only among Buddhist in our country but among Korean people and the people of the world.”
The Buddhist order said that a single remark made by a prominent person may either inspire the populace or do irreparable harm.
Reps. Do Jong-hwan and Min Byoung-dug must truly apologize to the spirits of those who perished after lighting themselves on fire in retaliation for persecution (by the Chinese government) and to the Tibetans who still endure tyranny today.
The DP lawmakers have recently come under fire from the public for attending an event in Tibet that was sponsored and paid for by the Chinese government as well as for their uncensored remarks.
Seven DP lawmakers, including Do, who served as President Moon Jae-in’s minister of culture, visited the China Xizang Tourism and Culture Expo in Tibet earlier this month.
Due to the timing of their visit, which coincided with rising bilateral tensions between Korea and China as a result of remarks made by Chinese Ambassador to Korea Xing Haiming in front of DP chairman Lee Jae-myung, their visit was seen as being improper. On June 8, with the DP leader seated next to him, Ambassador Xing delivered a 15-minute speech in which he expressed his concern that those who gambled against China would “regret it.”
Lee came under fire for creating the conditions that allowed the Chinese ambassador to express himself in a manner that was particularly evocative of the era when imperial China ruled over Korean kingdoms.
The journey of the DP MPs was first kept a secret until the local daily Hankook Ilbo revealed that a different group of DP members had previously visited Beijing.
Even though the public was against the trip, the parliamentarians went through with it. Critics claimed that the MPs from the liberal party were being exploited in a Chinese propaganda event when it was revealed that the Chinese government had paid for the whole trip.
Do said that he was there at the exhibition in Tibet and denied knowing about “negative public opinion,” adding that it was beyond of their purview to speculate as to why no western nations had come.
He spoke on a radio program on Monday after his homecoming and discounted Tibet’s human rights crimes, saying they occurred more than seven decades ago.
Do said that “[human rights violations] occurred in 1951 and 1959.” He said, “We went to the exhibition for tourism and culture. “I hope that [going to the expo] and human rights will be seen as separate issues.”
Rep. Min, who was one of the seven DP members who travelled to Tibet, pointedly questioned how bringing up an incident from 70 years ago would advance the cause of the country.