By Tendar Tsering
The 26th World Fellowship of Buddhists Conference in Yeosu city of South Korea.
DHARAMSHALA, June 16: Criticising China for "politicising" a religious event, South Korea's leading Buddhist organisation on Thursday demanded an apology from the Chinese government.
The Chinese delegation at the 26th World Fellowship of Buddhists Conference in Yeosu city of South Korea boycotted the event and abruptly flew home on Wednesday protesting the participation of the Tibetan contingent.
The Tibetan delegation at the June 11-16 conference comprised of Tibetan Minister for the Department of Religion and Culture under the Central Tibetan Administration, Pema Chhinjor and former Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, who attended the global Buddhist conference as envoy of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Calling the boycott of the event as 'disrespect' and 'regrettable', the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism demanded an apology from Beijing.
"The Chinese delegates only prioritised their own political agenda by refusing to accept the presence of a Tibetan delegation officially registered as a member of the WFB," the Buddhist organisation said.
They accused Beijing of "lacking the least respect and consideration for what was supposed to be a purely religious event."
"The WFB conference should be a purely religious exchange that rules out political interests… we demand that the Chinese delegation offer a sincere apology and promise it will never happen again," the Jogye Order said.
Held every two years, about 400 delegates from some 30 countries took part in the Conference being organised by the Jogye Order and the Jogye Order's Central Council of the Laity.
In a release, the Department of Religion and Culture said that the organisers and participants of the Conference "highly praised" Kalon Pema Chhinjor for showing "forbearance" in response to protests by the Chinese delegation.
The 17 Chinese delegates had protested Kalon Chhinjor's attendance at the opening ceremony on June 12 and later produced "documents" to prevent him from attending the Conference.
"The Chinese delegates' tactics backfired as they became the ones who had to leave the conference," the Department said.