How many Buddhists have been murdered in the world?
How many Buddhist temples have been attacked by Christian fundamentalists?
In a book published in the United States this week, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and other institutions point out that, in fact, this is not the case.
They point out, instead, that in Buddhist communities in India, China, and Tibet, “buddhism has been the victim of religious fundamentalism, with the result that many of the monks, nuns, and laypeople who have been killed in the name of religion are themselves victims of violence and repression.”
The authors write: [S]o much violence, harassment, and intimidation, and even some of the deaths attributed to violence have been carried out by followers of the faith themselves.
They say the number of Buddhist monks killed in this manner may be as high as 500,000.
“Buddhists, by and large, are peaceful and have been for millennia,” the authors write.
“The violent acts committed by followers and the fact that the majority of those perpetrators have never been caught have led to the conclusion that they are not Buddhist, and the violence against them is not Buddhist.”
In the United Kingdom, a similar report published in March by the British Council found that Buddhism is under threat from “sectarian and religious fundamentalists.”
The report said that: “Bodies of Buddhist monastics have been found with the words ‘Buddhist,’ ‘Brahman,’ ‘Dharma,’ or ‘Bhagavad Gita’ spray painted on them and in their homes.”
In recent years, Buddhist groups have sought to distance themselves from such violence and violence against the monastics, calling it “anti-Buddhi” violence.
But the report also noted that there are “continuing, alarming trends” of violence against non-Bodhisattvas.
It said that “many” Buddhists “are being targeted for their religion.”
The researchers say that “the overwhelming majority of attacks on non-buddhs in the last 30 years are carried out in the names of religious extremists.”
A report from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights found that more than half of all attacks against the minority group since 2005 have been in the form of vandalism.
In a statement published in January by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the global body representing Muslim religious leaders, the report found that “violent acts have been committed against the Muslim community” and called on Muslim governments to “ensure that religious freedom is respected.”
In a recent article, the authors of the report pointed out that “violence against religious minorities and their properties are the gravest crimes against humanity.”
The Buddhist study “does not mention religious extremists,” the report states, “but it also does not say the perpetrators are religious extremists, or that these perpetrators are known to be Buddhist.”
The study also said that “[b]ased on the findings of the International Religious Freedom Survey, the number and nature of attacks against religious minority and property by the various religious groups are much higher than the reported numbers and the level of attacks are also much higher.”
“Violence against religious believers and property has been a persistent problem in Buddhist and other Buddhist communities for decades,” the study says.
“This is a serious challenge to religious freedoms, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.
It has been documented repeatedly that the perpetrators of violence have not been known to the authorities.”
“The findings of this report underscore the need for the governments and other non-state actors to act decisively to combat religious violence and to protect the Buddhist and Muslim communities, particularly the monastic communities,” the statement says.
A second report from scholars from the National Bureau of Asian Research says that the number killed in attacks on religious minority groups in the past 30 years is much higher: “Since 2005, at least 16 Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh communities in China have been victims of attacks by non-religious extremists, which have included violence against Buddhist temples, Buddhist temples and shrines, and Buddhist shrines and monasteries.”
The new report comes at a time when violence against religious communities is rising in the Middle East and North Africa, where there are reports of violence by Islamic extremists against Muslims.
“As the region’s most populous nation, the Middle Eastern countries face the most serious challenge in the region, including from extremist attacks against Muslims and Christians,” the researchers write.