Sulak Sivaraksa is one of Thailand’s preeminent social activist and one of the titans of the modern engaged Buddhist movement. He founded and currently directs Thailand’s Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation, and also serves on the advisory board of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. In addition to all his work as an activist, organizer, and social critic in Thailand, he has also served as chair of the UN’s Asian Cultural Forum on Development and has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Hawaii, and Cornell University.
A Nobel Peace Prize nominee, he is the author such books as Seeds of Peace: A Buddhist Vision for Renewing Society; Conflict, Culture, Change: Engaged Buddhism in a Globalizing World; Loyalty Demands Dissent: Autobiography of a Socially Engaged Buddhist; and The Wisdom of Sustainability: Buddhist Economics for the 21st Century.
I’ve had the distinct pleasure and true honor of meeting and receiving teachings from Sulak, and I think he’s one of the most extraordinary and inspiring individuals I have ever encountered. He’s definitely one of my heroes, and his work has certainly been an inspiration for this blog. (He’s been mentioned many times before.)
So I was saddened this morning to see the following news from the Bangkok Post:
Prominent social critic Sulak Sivaraksa says he has been denied an entry visa to China.
Mr Sulak revealed on Thursday that the Chinese embassy on April 3 rejected his request for a visa to enter the country.
He said he was scheduled to visit his ancestral homeland in China yesterday.
”I intended to visit the homeland [of my ancestors] in Taechiew [Teochew in eastern Guangdong province in China] yesterday. But I learned on April 3 that they denied me the visa,” Mr Sulak said.
A close associate of Mr Sulak said he intended to bring his close friends with him to China to see and worship wooden tablets representing his Chinese ancestors.
Mr Sulak, who has faced lese majeste lawsuits several times in past decades, said he suspected the rejection of his visa request might be connected to his support of the Dalai Lama, the religious and political leader of Tibet who lives in exile in India.
”They may have let me know that they have felt a bit uncomfortable with my support for the Dalai Lama. But I always insist that I stand by righteousness,” Mr Sulak said.
Mr Sulak said he had previously enjoyed good ties with former Chinese leaders in the past.
He said he was among the first Thais who were invited to visit China after Thailand established diplomatic relations with Beijing.
He said he also led one of the first groups of Thai students to visit the city of Sipsongpanna — or Xishuangbanna — in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan.
He was also among the first Thais who were allowed by China to visit Tibet, Mr Sulak added.
Mr Sulak explained that he also had good ties with Sang Pattanothai, who was an adviser to former prime minister Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsongkhram. Mr Sang was an expert on Chinese affairs and he was a pioneer in helping to establish Thai-Chinese relations.
Here’s hoping the Chinese government reverses their decision, and Ajahn Sulak can visit his ancestral home.,,