Tree-saving Buddhist needs support
This message comes from the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), asking for support for former monk Prachak Pethsing to pay for legal expenses incurred in protecting native forests in Thailand. He led villagers in opposing the eucalyptus scheme, set up volunteer forest patrols, and "ordained" trees to prevent them from being axed. The letter from INEB is followed by an article on Prachak Pethsing from the Bangkok Post.
We hope you are keeping well! You may have heard about the story of former Conservationist Buddhist monk Prachak Pethsing (known as Phra Prachak Khuttasjitto). For many years he tried to preserve the Dong Yai forest in Buriram District in north-eastern Thailand and to convince the villagers in his area not to cut trees and to stop the introduction of eucalyptus mono-plantations. "We cannot be truly happy, if beings which surround us, such as grasses, trees, and animals cannot be happy... All beings must attain enlightenment together with us", he told them. But for his struggle against the deforestation he received pressure by government officials and logging companies who feared for their profit. Seven charges of violating different laws were brought against him, resulting in his decision to disrobe in 1994. He still has to go to the court regularly. Five charges were brought to an end in December 1996 and August 1997. But two more charges still remain. For Prachak Pethsing life has become very difficult.
"We cannot be truly
if beings which surround us,
such as grasses, trees, and animals cannot be happy"
On 3 October Prachak received the Honorary Award from Sarvodaya Foundation from Sri Lanka which is given annually to outstanding Buddhist activists. The event was well covered by the media. Also recently Prachak was portrayed by the German Greenpeace Magazine as a victim of "State terrorism against environmentalists". Prachak urgently needs material support to cover expenses (currently $US2,000) for his legal struggle. We would highly appreciate your support for him.
You can transfer money to the following bank account:
INEB1, First Bangkok City Bank Co. Ltd., Sao-Ching-Cha Branch, Bangkok.
Account number: 007-2-11604-9
or send a check to the following addresses:
INEB, PO Box 19, Mahadthai Post Office, Bangkok 10206, Thailand
in the USA:
c/o Buddhist Peace Fellowship, PO Box 4650, Berkeley, CA 94704, USA
* * *
Ex-monk gets honorary award
Prachak honoured for conservation efforts
by Kulcharee Tansubhapol, Bangkok Post 5 Oct. 1997, page 1
Former conservationist monk Phra Prachak Kuttjitto, now Prachak Phetsing, has been given this years honorary award of Sarvodaya from Sri Lanka -- one of the worlds biggest Buddhist movements.
Founded by AT Aritayaratne in 1958, Sarvodaya was inspired by the work of Mahatma Gandhi. It is now one of the largest non-governmental organisations in Sri Lanka, working in more than 11,000 villages to improve living conditions for the poor by integrating social, economic and spiritual approaches.
The award is given annually to honour outstanding Buddhists.
Two recipients were chosen this year. They are Prachak Phetsingh, of Thailand, and the International Network of Engaged Buddhists patron Somdech Maha Ghosananda of Cambodia.
Mr Prachak is the first Thai recipient. He was honoured for his past efforts as a monk in preserving the Dong Yai forest in Buri Ram in the northest. He led villagers in opposing the eucalyptus scheme, set up volunteer forest patrols, and "ordained" trees to prevent them from being axed. "We cannot be truly happy, if beings which surround us, such as grass, trees, and animals cannot bve happy ... All beings must attain enlightenment together with us", he said.
Mr Prachaks conservation efforts earned him widespread recognition and enemies among logging firms and government officials. He was forced to leave the monkhood in 1994 after seven charges for violating various laws, including trespassing, forest encroachment, and disruption of the public peace, were brought against him.
Over the past three years he has regularly had to attendd hearings to defend himself. Five cases have already been completed and others are still pending.
Mr Prachak, 59, lives at the Wongsanit Ashram, a Buddhist retreat for social activists but sometimes goes to Khao Kra Jieo in Lop Buri Province. He helps teach dhamma practice to the ashram members and takes care of its work.
"After fighting for a long time, I became exhausted and lost my way," he wrote recently.
Asked whether he would consider entering the monkhood again once the two remaining cases were over, he said he would be too old by the time they had finished. "I would rather be a layman, as I am today, and practise dhamma. I dont want to bother others to have to pay me respect or wai as a monk".
Note: This article is reproduced here for personal use only.