Evidences of Case “Mondo Zen”

CASE 48-2018: Mondo Zen & Hollow Bones Order & Integral Zen
By Master Yan Maitri-Shi, Prosecutor

After Legitimating and Validating Evidences and Charges by Master Maitreya, President and Spiritual Judge of IBEC-BTHR, it is addressed the case against the accused party, “Mondo Zen & Hollow Bones Order & Integral Zen”. This investigation was initiated from the Cases of United Nations (UN) & Atlantic Council & Ken Wilber.
The Charges by which the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights is accusing “Mondo Zen & Hollow Bones Order & Integral Zen” are enumerated below:
• Violation of Buddhist Law
• Fraud
• Militarism
• Complicity with Violations of International Human Rights Law
• Complicity with Genocide
• Complicity with Crimes against Humanity
• Complicity with War Crimes
• Complicity with Crimes against Peace
• Complicity with Violations of International Humanitarian Law

The procedure established in the Statute of INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST ETHICS COMMITTEE & BUDDHIST TRIBUNAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS provides both bodies the ostentation to enjoy independence and liberty from state and national regulation and control, besides having the legality and acting as a Buddhist People in order to assert its customs, traditions, practices, procedures, judgments and rights as well as acting in pursuit of the development of Spirituality, of Buddhist Ethics, and of the defense of International Human Rights. This procedure has the particularity, singularity and distinction of having “Special Jurisdiction of the Tribal Law” and “Universal Jurisdiction of the International Law”, thus having the Character, Juridical validity, Legal Powers, infrastructure, Training and Capability necessary to be Actor, Administrator and Executor of Justice in this realm and exercise, by judging of the Accused by means of an Ethical Judgment whose Purpose is Truth, Reconciliation and Learning.-
Therefore, it is detailed a series of EVIDENCES that support the Charges referred so that the Jury members decide about the possible “Responsibility”, “Innocence” or “Insanity” of the accused. Such evidence come from graphic and audiovisual media that have been gathered, sorted and confirmed in their order and context as Means of Proof in order to know, establish, dictate and determine the Responsibility of the Accused for committing the aforementioned Charges.

Evidence: Complicity with Violations of Buddhist Ethics
Evidence: Complicity with Human Rights Violations

International Buddhist Ethics Committee: The Case against Mondo Zen – Hollow Bones Order & Integral Zen has three fundamental axes. In the first place, the accused ones have repeatedly stated publicly that they are a Buddhist tradition that follows the teachings of Ken Wilber, despite the fact that this author has been sentenced by the Ethics Committee due to his fraudulent and anti-Buddhist activities. Secondly, the accused ones have legitimized Eido Shimano as an enlightened Zen master, because despite criticizing him for his sexual misconduct, the accused have claimed to follow the lineage and teachings of this fraudulent master and have even revalidated Nakagawa Soen Roshi even though he covered up Shimano’s sexual abuses for decades. Third, the accused ones have supported and participated in the creation of a Buddhist Sangha within the US Army during the same time that this army illegally invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, where serious human rights violations were committed such as torture, illegal detentions and extrajudicial killings within a context of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity that resulted in the deaths of more than 2 million human beings. On this last point, Mondo Zen – Hollow Bones Order & Integral Zen not only joined or spiritually involved with an army that had previously dropped two atomic bombs against 2 cities in Japan, but even this Sangha has come to advocate war by means of the vindication of the necessity of murder and war, spiritually supporting and assisting the army of the United States of America in the perpetration of its crimes, which is an error identical to the warlike and criminal participation that Japanese Zen had during World War II in Japan. This last point is particularly a matter of concern, considering that at the time of joining and providing support to the US Army, it was carrying out acts of genocide and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan and Iraq. Precisely, in 2011 and 2012 the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission ruled that President Bush of the USA was guilty of committing crimes against peace and war crimes in Afghanistan, especially for having carried out an international system of torture against illegal detainees. These procedures were confirmed by the Obama administration, which prohibited torture, although it provided total impunity to the perpetrators. In 2017 the prosecution of the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed that these accusations against the Bush administration regarding the crimes of torture in Afghanistan had solid foundations, and that they deserved to be investigated as war crimes before the ICC in order to prevent them from remaining unpunished. While Mondo Zen & Hollow Bones Order was linked in 2004 with the US military, there is public evidence that since 2002 several international experts had already criticized the invasion of Afghanistan as illegal and as a crime against peace, and even in the 2003-2004 period several human rights organizations had already spread the illegal detentions, torture and deaths carried out by the US Army in Afghanistan, which means that this Buddhist community does not have any valid excuse to argue that they did not know what was really happening.

Evidence: Complicity with Violations of Buddhist Ethics
International Buddhist Ethics Committee: “Case No. 31/2017: Ken Wilber. NOTIFICATION to Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi. On February 6, 2018, the International Buddhist Ethics Committee & Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights is communicating with Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi, as a result of the Judgment that has been made against Ken Wilber for the crimes of Academic Dishonesty, Spiritual Scam and False Buddhism, Violation of Buddhist Law, Crime against Buddhist Cultural Heritage and Violation of Human Rights, which was sentenced for the fraudulent teachings of this writer. Although Ken Wilber has committed numerous violations of the Buddhist Ethics, he seems to be receiving public support from Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi, which is an act of complicity that must be immediately cancelled. The International Buddhist Ethics Committee & Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights clearly considers that Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi is violating the sacredness of Buddhist Spirituality by publicly stating that Ken Wilber is the perfect one, is unique and brilliant without parallel, all of which is a total offense against Buddhism, since this individual is a fraud, not only for resorting to plagiarism but also because for decades he has transmitted ideas that totally misinterpret Buddhism and Meditation, even endorsing gurus that are sexual abusers, violent, insane and corrupt. In addition, Ken Wilber not only shows pathological character traits of narcissism and sectarianism, but also transmits a pseudo-spiritual and pseudo-scientific system along with an ethnocentric and right-wing political system. Obviously, all these traits and ideas of Ken Wilber are a profound violation of the Bodhisattva ideal. Even, Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi has come to lie openly when saying that Wilber has 50 years of experience in Zen and Vajrayana. Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi has even said not only that Wilber is one of his great teachers, but also that his own Zen Master, Jun Po Denis Kelly, has not recovered from narcissistic tendencies, which is tantamount to confessing that he has not fully awakened, unconsciously invalidating his own Zen lineage, which is a school that comes from Eido Shimano Roshi, who has had multiple complaints of sexual abuse for several years. Ergo, the International Buddhist Ethics Committee & Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights requests Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi to immediately stop supporting Ken Wilber, this being an act of complicity with immoral ideas that undermine the dignity of Buddhism.”
International Buddhist Ethics Committee: “Case No. 31-2017: Ken Wilber. Official Statement to Jun Po Denis Kelly. The International Buddhist Ethics Committee, on February 7, 2018, decides to reaffirm once again that all organizations endorsing Ken Wilber’s fraudulent teachings will be practizing a False Buddhism and a False Spirituality in the eyes of Buddhist Law, betraying the Fundamental teachings of Master Gautama, since Ken Wilber has been judged for Academic Dishonesty, Spiritual Scam and False Buddhism, Violation of Buddhist Law, Crime against Buddhist Cultural Heritage and Violation of Human Rights. In this sense, with regard to the organization called “Integral Zen”, which publicly claims to be a Zen lineage that follows Wilber’s teachings, it is confirmed that a False Zen would actually be practiced, since as has been demonstrated during the Wilber Case this writer conveys anti-Buddhist and anti-Zen ideas, transmitting a heresy and a betrayal of the fundamental principles of Buddhist Spirituality. The International Buddhist Ethics Committee also confirms that the alleged Lineage of “Integral Zen” would have fraudulent biases that must be immediately solved, not only for incorporating Wilber’s fraudulent teachings, but also because Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi, the leader of “Integral Zen”, says that he has received the Dharma transmission in an uninterrupted line that goes back to Siddharta Gautama himself. Beyond the fact that historically and philosophically one can doubt the uninterruption of the Zen lineages that go back to Gautama Buddha, the International Buddhist Ethics Committee considers that such an affirmation on the part of the “Integral Zen” is fraudulent for different possible reasons: Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi’s Master was Jun Po Denis Kelly, who renounced his Zen lineage due to a conflict with his Master named Eido Shimano, which is something that shows a clear interruption in the line; Two decades later, Master Eido Shimano has had to resign due to public allegations of sexual misconduct, which is a clear interruption in the line, in addition to delegitimizing any Dharma transmission that he may have previously granted, since this lack of ethics corrupts deeply his Zen lineage; On the other hand, there are public testimonies coming from Sanghas of Japan manifesting that Master Eido Shimano has not finished his training process, and therefore, he would not have received the Dharma transmission, which would definitively destroy all possible legitimacy on the part of his Zen lineage. The International Buddhist Ethics Committee confirms that if the “Integral Zen” lineage wishes to be legitimate, it should not only abandon Ken Wilber’s anti-Buddhist teachings that support criminal and insane gurus, but it should also abandon the fraudulent claim to go back in time without interruption to Siddhartha Gautama, besides the fact that they should definitely renounce being Dharma heirs of someone whose ethical and spiritual legitimacy has been invalidated: Master Eido Shimano’s. Finally, the International Buddhist Ethics Committee confirms that it will initiate an international legal investigation into Eido Shimano’s misbehavior, which could even lead to the annulment of his alleged title of Roshi.”
Integral Zen (Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi): “Lineage. We trace our particular lineage back to the great troublemaker and Rinzai Zen master Hakuin (1686-1768), a peasant monk who single-handedly revitalized Zen and brought it alive with his insight, humor, and penetrating wisdom. He placed special emphasis on the practice of koans, seemingly paradoxical or impossible questions that could only be answered by deepening spiritual insight. Soen Nakagawa Roshi (1907-1984) was the controversial and eccentric head abbot of the head Rinzai Temple in Japan, Ryūtaku-ji, whose student Eido Shimano Roshi founded Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji monastery in New York State. Jun Po Kando Denis Kelly Roshi met Soen Roshi many times, both in Japan and in the United States. Kelly trained at Dai Bosatsu from 1985-1991, first becoming an ordained priest and then, in 1992, receiving inka and dharma transmission in the Rinzai lineage. In 1993 Jun Po resigned as vice-abbot [the full story as to why can be found in The Heart of Zen], and then spent a decade exploring psychology and shadow work. In the mid-2000’s, Jun Po created Mondo Zen, designed to bring emotional maturity and awareness into the mindfulness practices of classical Zen. In 2011, Doshin M.J. Nelson was given inka and dharma transmission by Jun Po Roshi, becoming the 84th Patriarch in an uninterrupted line all the way to the Buddha himself. His love of Integral Theory and his passion for psychological shadow work led him to found Integral Zen. Mission. The Mission of Integral Zen is to offer an evolutionary path to awakening and full human fulfillment, based on the teachings and practices of Rinzai Zen, and our root teachers Soen Roshi, Eido Roshi, Jun Po Roshi, and the collected works and wisdom of the integral philosopher Ken Wilber. This living community is non-dogmatic in its philosophy, and open to the evolution of its own processes and instructions. It holds as true: That we have in this moment all we need to attain full and complete awakening. The understanding that most of us are inhibited in our realization by an incorrect view, created by false beliefs and assumptions and strengthened by psychological trauma and shadow. The wisdom of facing all that life offers us, without exception, from a place of radical acceptance, humility, and compassion. The wisdom held in the body and its necessity on the path. The necessity of facing our False Selves on the path to seeing our Own True Face. The fundamental goodness of every sentient being, without exception. The power of ignorance to obscure our clear deep hearts and minds. The partial nature of any view, belief, or position — especially our own. The evolutionary forces that drive human understanding into an ever increasingly sophisticated understanding of ourselves and our universe. (…) What is Integral Zen? At Integral Zen, we use the zazen, kinhin, and koans from traditional Rinzai Zen. We also use the Five Training Elements and the transformative practice of Mondo Zen™ to re-orient, mature and enlighten our ego and our emotional bodies. In addition to these, we add the conceptual framework of Integral Theory and more rigorous forms of individual and collective psychological shadow work. With Integral language and a deep meditative practice, we are able to discuss complex topics with greater understanding, clarity, and compassion. By using Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory, including his All Quadrants All Levels (AQAL) map – all levels, lines, types, states, and quadrants – the territory of our lives comes alive. This map allows greater compassion for ourselves and others, since it empowers us to stop imposing our unconscious assumptions about the world onto nearly every place we touch it. And yet, the map is not the territory, and Integral Zen is ruthless in its distinction between intellectual understanding, experiential understanding, and spiritual insight. Meditative practitioners with deep spiritual insight often suffer from a too-partial view of the cosmos. Integralists with sophisticated maps of the world often suffer from a lack of experiential insight about the true nature of their minds. The complexity of an evolutionary, 21st Century spirituality cannot be understood without a common language. An Integral View, combined with a stable spiritual insight, greatly enhances the level of clarity, predictability, and understanding within our community. We are able to more profoundly connect with ourselves and each other. We understand our own Zen practice through an empowering yet humbling lens that allows us to understand better what we have realized, and what we have yet to discover. Integral Zen and Personal and Collective Psychological Shadow. The process of awakening is the very process of making what is unconscious, conscious. But we cannot enlighten the parts of our mind that we cannot see, no matter how deep our spiritual insight or how vast our intellectual knowledge. You can be deeply awake or a great scholar, and still be a reactive and petty jerk in your own life! In our experience, a person’s ability to fully awaken is directly tied to his or her ability and willingness to face psychological shadow material. If you’re human you have it, without exception. Integral Zen recognizes that each one of us has aspects of his or herself that are undeveloped, no matter the depth of spiritual insight. Within the unique paths that have led us to where we are, there are steps that are often missed. Therefore we examine what steps were missed in our own development. We then choose to consciously make room for and encourage each other to develop in these specific areas. Integral Zen includes many forms of psychological shadow work to illuminate our disowned and false selves. When we disown part of ourselves we automatically create a lie, a story about who we are that is not true. This is what Jung called the persona, Voice Dialogue calls the primary self, and Wilber calls the false self. When this shadow, the disowned self, is reintegrated into the personality, there is no need to continue to lie to ourselves. The false self is seen through, discarded and replaced with a more authentic sense of self that includes the disowned parts.”
Abbot Jun Po Denis Kelly: “Jun Po Denis Kelly, received his Zen Masters recognition in 1992. He was Vice Abbot and head monk as well as resident yoga teacher at Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kong Ji in the Catskill Mountains in New York state from 1987 through 1993. His Inka Zen lineage is in the Rinzai tradition, through Eido Shimano Roshi of the The Zen Studies Society. His yoga lineage is that of BKS Iyengar and Patabi Jois. Jun Po has been practicing, studying and teaching Zen and Yoga for over twenty-five years.”
Jun Po Roshi: “Dear Board Members. Today# with deep regret, profound sadness and genuine concern, 1 resign as Vice Abbot and Head Monk at Dai Bosatsu Zendo. After two weeks of deep and anguished soul searching, find that Eido Roshi and I are diametrically opposed on two critical, irreconcilable issues: the first being Buddhist ethics or precepts# and the second being the philosophy of teaching”.
Jun Po Roshi: (This is a provocative excerpt from “The Heart of Zen”) “Eido Roshi was for me and many others a true meditation master, with incredibly clear insight. Yet some of his behaviors were very problematic. (…) My experiences with his duplicity concerning his unconventional sexuality at Dai Bosatsu helped to show me that meditation alone wasn’t enough; insight alone wasn’t enough. I resigned my vice abbotship in protest over his behavior, and gave up my secession of the monastery in the spring of 1993. (…) He was being deceitful. I do not object to consenting sex between psychologically healthy adults, or even polyamorous relationships where people have open sexual relationships with more than one partner. I’m not even necessarily opposed to adult teachers sleeping with adult students, so long as it is open and honest— if you’re not willing to do what you’re doing in the public eye, and with everyone aware of what’s going on, you should probably think twice about the behavior. (…) But the Mondo Koan Process started with Eido, because of my need to understand his confusion, sexual immaturity, reactive duplicity, and cultural bondage. (…) It’s a mess. The rules of Zen are very old and very rigid, and they can’t be broken by someone like Eido Roshi, who lives within their confines and teaches them. Classic Zen doesn’t evolve — they do things now they same way they did them 400 years ago. So he had to go into psychological shadow and duplicity. Many times he took advantage of women because he saw their weakness around him. And more than once, I watched women take advantage of him because they saw his weakness around them. These things are seldom as neat as the stories we create about them. It’s an impossible dilemma Zen, and culture in general, finds itself in around sexuality. How could a traditional Japanese Zen master deal with complicated sexuality between consenting adults, and remain in cultural integrity? How could he express his sexual desire, and remain in personal integrity? (…) I told him just “tell the truth. You have the opportunity to enlighten us. (…) Be sure you’re clear on the difference between love and lust.” (…) I do know that love doesn’t leave anyone feeling used or pissed off. That much I can tell you. But now I get to understand and compassionately live with what Eido taught me. What to do classically, and what not to do culturally and personally. I am eternally grateful for both teachings. (…) Then, it’s inconceivable you could choose to cause another being pain through selfish action. Getting laid, and deceiving someone because you’re unwilling to stand honestly with your desire and its consequences, doesn’t work anymore. Not as an ethical edict from outside but as an interior moral, from within. (…) I fell in love with a priest in my order in the mid-2000’s, when both of us were in relationships with other people. But it was before Mondo Zen had been developed; I too ended up falling into duplicity and madness and deceit, and tore my own community apart. My insight wasn’t deep enough… I didn’t ‘stumble in this domain’; I fell.
Zen Studies Society: “On July 4, 2010, Eido Shimano Roshi stepped down from the board of directors of the Zen Studies Society (ZSS). This was prompted by allegations of clergy misconduct. The ZSS is committed to fully investigating, clarifying and bringing resolution to this matter. Eido Roshi’s wife, Aiho-san Shimano, also stepped down from the Board at that time. It was with deepest gratitude and respect for their years of service to this organization and their humble effort to assist us in honestly processing this matter and preparing us for their transition from temporal authority, that we accepted their resignations from the ZSS Board. After discussion with senior members of the American Zen Teachers Association, the ZSS’s board has decided to seek outside professional assistance to move this process forward with openness and compassion for all. We thank the ZSS board for their openness and prompt response and we wish them all the best going forward.”
Robin Westen: “I met Eido Roshi at Dai Bosatsu, the Zen monastery in the Catskills where he is abbot. This particular morning was the last day of sesshin, the seven-day silent retreat, during which participants (the sangha) sit in lotus or half lotus position for almost 14 consecutive hours. (…) Later that morning I was running along the dark hall of the zendo to the dokusan or guidance room to see Eido Roshi. Despite my eagerness, I made sure to enter with the proper Zen etiquette, bowing once at the door and once directly in front of him on my knees. The room was pitch dark– except for a nightlight silhouetting Eido Roshi’s shaved head. His body was clothed in meticulously draped black robes. (…) He fixed his eyes on me, until I understood that this was meant as an invitation to speak. I tried to control my excitement as I told him my experience with the oatmeal. He watched me for several minutes in silence, and then delivered his judgment. “What you have described is kensho. Enlightenment.” He cupped my head in his hands and held it against his chest. That evening, at the onset of the final period of meditation, Eido Roshi announced that one member of the sangha had experienced enlightenment on this, the last day of sesshin. (…) But he was fixing me with that expression less and serene gaze of his, and he had all my attention. I waited for a sign. It came. He bowed in my direction. Two hours later, Sesshin was over. I was on the point of leaving the monastery when Eido approached me and invited me to take tea with him at the Zen Studies Society in New York City. I was again sitting in half-lotus. This time I was nervous. Okay, so I was enlightened, but instead of feeling elated, I had been depressed all week. Nothing had really changed. Now I was having tea with Eido Roshi. I was prepared to talk about my spiritual development, but surprisingly all he said was, “The best time to make love to a woman is right after sesshin, when she looks her sexiest. If I had my way, if people understood the essence of detachment, everyone would sleep with each other the night sesshin ends.” I thought he might be flirting, but Zen is so enigmatic. (…) But then Eido attacked me and it all collapsed. I had come for spiritual guidance, but instead I was being seduced. (…) Leaning against the couch, my host loosened the belt of his flowing white robe, patted his stomach, and smiled. He had the most incredible radiance in his eyes. “Have you seen the temple in our New York Zendo?” he whispered. “Come.” I was seated across from him on a small round cushion. My legs were numb–a dead giveaway, I suspected, that I had only been practicing Zen for a year. He stood and held out his hand. I took it awkwardly, but before I could get the feeling back in my legs, he ripped me off the floor and pulled my body against his, then grabbed my breast, prodded my mouth with his tongue, and started to pull up my skirt and reach between my legs. For a moment, I was too stunned to react. But then I pushed him away, and stood there, my arms distancing us. I looked straight at him. He stared right back. He acted as though nothing had happened. He was still smiling. I was sickened, frightened, disoriented, confused. The physical assault was bad enough, but even worse was the emotional betrayal. He was my Zen master, my teacher, my guide, and he had brutally violated my trust. I didn’t know what to do next, so I just followed him down the stairs to the temple where I watched him bow to the Buddha. Then I saw the red light above the exit sign and quickly left the building. When I stood outside on the street, I was still shaken. I had not only been sexually attacked, but the offender was one of the most respected spiritual leaders in the Zen Buddhist community, the leader of the New York Zendo, Eido Shimano Roshi. Could I have been an isolated incident? I doubted it. I began my investigation that afternoon, with the first of over 50 phone calls I would make to past and present students. During the months of interviewing, I discovered that Eido Roshi had seduced, or attempted to seduce, dozens of women while acting as their spiritual guide. At least three of the women, as a result of their sexual-spiritual relationship with Eido, had suffered mental breakdowns serious enough to cause hospitalization. I was to learn that Eido had been involved in sex scandals for over 15 years, but each time they were brought to light in the Zen community they were silenced. I was also to learn, through an open letter written to the Board of Trustees of the Zen Studies Society by its former president, that Eido had apparently neglected to pay any personal income taxes, was accepting donations to the society from a convicted drug felon, and had been abusive to his own 75-year-old Zen Master, Soen Roshi. When I questioned Eido about these accusations during telephone conversations, he denied them all. (…)Unlike the Catholic Church, there is no hierarchy, no father figure to look over individual temples or Zen masters. There is no governing body to enforce rules, for in Zen there are no rules. In fact, there’s almost a total disregard of formalism. The only figure of authority is the Roshi, or teacher, and his most important job is to help students gain enlightenment. In this position, he can exercise incredible control over his disciples’ psyche, especially in the dokusan room (…) can easily use his position to persuade or coerce a susceptible student, similar to a psychiatrist’s control over a vulnerable patient. (…) Eido and his wife Aiho lived two blocks away, in their own well-appointed townhouse at 356 East 69th Street. The day I was to have tea with the Roshi, I had to wait — he was in the middle of his daily afternoon shiatsu massage. Eido can thank his followers for his opulent life style. (…)There are bells and gongs worth more than tens of thousands of dollars each, and one enormous gong, smelted in Japan, valued at over $100,000. (…) Although it was never publicly acknowledged before, Robert Aitken, head of the Ko-An Zendo, told me during a telephone conversation that Eido’s three year term was filled with scandal and tragedy (…). Aitken explained: “I discovered Eido’s sexual involvements by accident. Two women in our group had nervous breakdowns. One of them attempted suicide. It was through their psychiatrist that I first got wind of anything. I had consulted with their doctors because I wanted to better understand mental illness so that I could in some way help these women. That’s when I learned of their relationship with Eido. His departure in 1964 from Hawaii was directly linked to the fact that these women were sexually involved with their Zen teacher, Eido Roshi, and had become mentally ill as a result.” (…) In 1968, a socially prominent couple who wished to remain anonymous donated the money to purchase and remodel the four story carriage house on East 67th Street. In 1971, the Catskill monastery site was chosen and the donation of $3 million from Xerox’s Carlson made the purchase possible. “Eido Roshi’s fund-raising abilities were incredible,” says Peter Gambi, a Wall Street investor and former student. “Whatever he wanted he would get. He has that kind of ability to make you think that if you don’t pour all your money into his projects or into Zen practice, then you are making a big mistake. He’s very talented that way.” (…) But the Zendo home was not a happy one. Amid the splendor of Dai Bosatsu in 1975 the biggest sex scandal broke. One woman, who had been Eido’s mistress for years, confided to another woman, only to discover that she was not the only one. Together they began to make telephone calls and soon learned that there were at least half a dozen other female members. Former student, Adam Fisher, a writer living in New York City refers to that period as “Fuck Follies I.” (“Fuck Follies II” took place on a smaller scale during the later period of 1979.) As their internal inquiries mounted, another half a dozen women admitted that Eido had made advances to them while they were attending sesshins, and that he had used the dokusan room as his station for seduction. (…) In a letter to another Eido student she stated, “I experienced quite a bit of harassment from Eido Roshi, from innuendo to proposition, during my stays at Dai Bosatsu. The first time it was just a barrage, in dokusan during sesshin. For six months I never spoke a word of it. I vigorously denied it to board members of the Zen Studies Society. But after I left, I found out Eido Roshi had propositioned other female students. We had been close friends and yet we had kept silence on something that was disturbing us every day in order to protect the group, the Roshi. Women who had affairs with Eido had taken painful falls when he tired of them. Another woman, a former student of Eido’s, now a housewife and mother of two children in Florida, explains: “(…) Eido Roshi appeared in the room. He asked me what I was doing and I said: “It’s the seventh day and I’m on the seventh chapter.” He stared at me for a moment or two and then he told me to follow him. I thought to myself: “This is great. Now I’m going to be initiated!” And I followed him upstairs to his quarters. I started to tell him about my spiritual experiences and he told me to be quiet. “Sssssh…ssh…be quiet!” he said in a whisper. “And almost before I knew it, he had pulled off his robe and was laying down on the bed stark naked. Well, I was in such a state then, I thought this must be some sort of test of detachment. It sounds ridiculous now, but when you’re serious about your Zen practice, and when you have a lot of respect for someone, you think the best, no matter what. And I thought the best when he ordered me to go down on him and perform fellatio. He told me it would be a spiritual experience for me… it wasn’t. To tell the truth it wasn’t much of a sexual experience. I don’t know why, I guess I was trying too hard to be detached. Anyway he knew that I didn’t enjoy it and after that he just lost interest in me.” Another personal experience was spoken about by a woman I’ll call Barbara Shuster, who is now married to a plumber and former Zen student. “When I first started Zen,” she told me, “I thought I was a lesbian. I’ve always thought of myself as the homely type and I was attracted to other women who were better looking than me… Anyway, the first time I went into the dokusan room and confided this to Eido Roshi, he looked at me in that way he does… and then he said: ‘Oh…is that sooooooo… And then finally he said: ‘Wellllll… there’s only one way to find out…’ He stared at me for the longest time and then he said he had a present for me. I should see him later. That evening I went to meet him. He opened up a box on the floor and brought out this beautiful silk scarf. He told me it was for me it was my present, but he just sat and fondled it on his lap. Well, I was sitting across from him. I felt relaxed. My legs were apart in lotus position and I was watching him fondle this silk scarf, and he never said anything, and the next thing I knew his hand wasn’t fondling the scarf, it was up my skirt. I screamed at him: ‘Eido Roshi! What are you doing. What do you think you’re doing?’ He took his hand away and all he would say was, ‘What do you mean? I wasn’t doing anything. What did you think I was doing?’ And that was the end of it for me. Like you don’t make a mistake like that. I know what he was doing, so why didn’t he admit it?” As peculiar as “Barbara’s” story sounded, I had reason to understand. At the beginning of my investigation, I had sent a letter to Eido reporting my intention to write an article about our incident at the New York Zen Studies Society. (…) “You have your viewpoint,” Eido said. “Other people have their viewpoint. You cannot write except by your own viewpoint (…) That’s why I at least want to say what is my viewpoint so when you write you can see it from different angles, (…) What you remember and what I remember are entirely different. Nobody was witnessing, so you can say it your own way, and I can say it my own way. That’s really the problem. What you will write will be from your point of view. Your subjective reality.” I reminded him that I had interviewed lots of women, to which he responded, “let’s put that aside for a while.” (…) A major Zen event was scheduled for July 4, 1976, to coincide with the bicentennial celebration. It was the official opening for Dai Bosatsu. All the Roshis and spiritual figures in the country were invited to attend the ceremony. But one student, Nora Safran, was so fed up with “Eido’s screwing around with the sangha,” as she puts it, that she sent a letter to all those who were invited, telling of Eido’s sexual appetite during sesshin, how he used his position to seduce female members, about his manipulations and lies. She urged them not to come as a protest. But on the day of the dedication, every Roshi was there except for Soen, Eido’s own teacher, who was conspicuously missing. He had remained in Japan. Members of the sangha say that Soen, possibly as a result of Nora’s letter, was quietly protesting his disciple’s behavior and publicly dissociating himself from Eido. Nora explained to me, Many of the followers from Dai Bosatsu spoke individually to the various Roshis who attended and told them again, privately, about Eido. Still, the Roshis kept silent, to save face, to save Zen in America! “I did learn that Soen had later spoken to Eido’s wife, Aiho. She was told about her husband’s seductions in front of several of the sangha, and Soen asked his wife to keep him under control. Little did Soen realize that Eido’s sexual appetite would increase as his power to manipulate his followers increased.” (…) Nora explained why Eido’s activities were not publicized. “When this thing was first brought out in the open among us, I was as hotheaded a revolutionary as anyone, I wanted to picket the place, expose him in The Village Voice, or maybe something classier than that. But I didn’t do any of it. Don’t get me wrong, the fact is I think the sex thing is just the tip of the iceberg. I suspect he’s crazy, truly crazy. I’ve seen him manipulate people in every possible way–sex is just one. But on the other hand, he’s not like some swami or something where they’re having scandals every five minutes. Zen Buddhism is very, very respectable. This is so unheard off. This guy is such an oddball in the Zen establishment. If we let outsiders know about Eido, it would be the end. Why ruin Zen in America? While cleaning the dormitory rooms of the Catskill monastery, a monk discovered the diaries of a woman I’ll call Laurel Sloane. She had left the monastery in a hurry. The diaries explicitly described her encounters with Eido. (…) others asked her to bring the diaries to the attention of the board of trustees of the Zen Studies Society. (…) Norman Hoeberg, Zenji or teacher of the Washington, D.C. Zendo (a satellite of the New York Zendo). Explained how the situation appears from the Zen master’s point of view. Six feet four, and by his own admission somewhat lacking in physical grace, Norman almost filled my small office when he came to talk about Eido. “He is my teacher and my Zen master, (…) I am his student and his disciple. And all of these stories… well, because of what he is and of what I am, I must give him leeway in the dokusan room. But I will admit, I don’t know where his head is at. He is a mystery to me. Really a mystery. From your point of view he’s seduced and destroyed women. But he’s also destroyed men, not through sexual manipulation but by power manipulation. I heard him arguing very loudly with a young man once. And then the young man went off and killed himself. “In his presence a woman fears physical rape–maybe. A man is spiritually raped with subtle mind control. But, you know, when a woman comes to see me in my dokusan room, and it’s dark and quiet, and you know for certain that no one will come to interrupt you–and all that makes for intimacy. And this woman, she might be feeling desperate about her private life, about her marriage, maybe, or about her boyfriend–or not having a boyfriend–or whatever. And she’s come to me for answers. It’s like being asked to play God. She’s come to me for spiritual guidance, and you want to know how I feel? I feel a sense of vulnerability about her. It’s like an atmosphere you can almost take hold of. And you look at this woman across the floor from you and what she’s brought with her–and it’s like a presence between you–and I tell you, you want to push it aside, and if you’re not careful, you can find yourself taking advantage of her. Maureen Friedgood, president of the Cambridge Buddhist Association and a one-time student of Eido’s, shared none of Norman’s empathy. “It seems Eido has a terrible problem. I tried hard to defend him all these years because in many ways he’s such a gifted teacher. I hoped he would outgrow this. But he’s still behaving like an adolescent boy. He just can’t resist. Maureen Friedgood remained loyal for over 20 years but now she refuses to go back and warns her students about Eido’s conduct. “It’s just dreadful,” she said. “I and many people feel Soen Roshi should have recalled Eido to Japan and sent somebody to take his place. It’s very upsetting and very bad for Zen in America.” I had heard, during my interviews, that Soen Roshi was returning to the United States for the first time in seven years. I sent a certified letter to both the New York City Zendo and Dai Bosatsu. I described the incident that had taken place with Eido at the New York Zendo, and the numerous interviews with other women who had experienced similar situations. One week later, I received a call from Soen Roshi, who was at Dai Bosatsu. We agreed to meet in a few days at the Catskill monastery. (…) Finally, Soen looked up from his tea and said, “We must begin now. This is a very serious matter.” I took out my notes and tapes and spread them across the low table. I spoke softly. I told him about my experience in the dokusan room during sesshin. I told him how Eido insisted I had kensho. I told him about the follow-up attack at the New York Zendo. I explained that when I confronted Eido on the telephone about these events, and about the other women who said they shared similar experiences, Eido’s response was, “Don’t speak about them. They were different. You are the only one who has experienced kensho.” Soen fixed me with his eyes and we sat staring at each other. Silence returned to the monastery. Finally he spoke: “This is a grave matter. Very grave. I showed Eido the letter you sent here last week. I asked him for an explanation. He gave me one, but it was not satisfactory. He is a liar.” (…) “This problem happened almost seven years ago when Dai Boastsu was to officially open. Now it is happening again. The responsibility is clearly mine.” He paused again. “It is a grave matter.” I reminded him that in my letter I had asked for a “turning word.” (In Zen, a “turning word” is the essential factor that will alter a situation.) He seemed surprised. “today?” But he did promise to have one for me on the following day. He said he needed to consult with George Zournas, president of the Zen Studies Society, an old and respected friend. That evening I had a long telephone conversation with George. “Well, in the whole history of Zen,” he said, “there have been those outrageous monks who do things that are very difficult for people to understand. My position through out all this is that I’m in no position to judge. (…) “You know, I have so much to do, working on my own character, that I don’t feel I can judge anyone else. The fact is, it may appear that some people have been injured by him, but to balance this, many have nicely benefited. For myself, I just don’t choose to play God and balance things out. There’s these 50 pounds to advantage and these 60 pounds to disadvantage, so he’s 10 pounds in the red! I think when we begin judging other people in this area, we are treading on dangerous ground. Because none of us know really what’s in the mind of any of us involved in this. Maybe in his lifetime, maybe in the next, there will be certain consequences he will endure.” The following week George Zournas, president of the Zen Studies Society for 15 years, resigned. The next morning the phone rang. I was certain it was Soen Roshi with the “turning word.” But it was David Schnyer, resident director of Dai Bosatsu, Eido’s right-hand monk and member of the board of trustees. David told me he was acting as Soen Roshi’s secretary. He said that any further communication at this time would be best dealt with through their lawyer. “Soen,” he said, “is requesting that you do not call again.” David insisted again and again that these were Soen’s own words. But according to Frank Locicero, a tax auditor at the Internal Revenue Service and a board member of the Zen Studies Society, David was merely following Eido’s orders. Frank had heard of my investigation from George, and called to help me a week after my talk with David. “David Schnyer is lying,” he said. “It’s just more manipulation by Eido. David probably doesn’t even know the truth about what’s going on.” (…) Frank made a motion anyway, requesting that Eido and Aiho be removed as chairman and treasurer of the Zen Studies Society, and that Eido be removed as abbot of Dai Bosatsu Zendo and the New York Zendo. The motion was seconded by Peggy Crawford. (…) I never received a “turning word” from Soen, who returned to Japan after his brief stay.” April, 1982
Robert Aitken Roshi (2010): “This is an open letter to Eido Tai Shimano Roshi: Dear Tai San, There are many reports of your abuse of women published on the web which indicate that you have been involved in breaking the precepts over a period of more than 40 years. I would like to urge you to come forth and make a statement in response to these accusations. Sincerely yours, Robert Aitken”
MARK OPPENHEIMER, AUG. 20, 2010 (New York Times): “Since 1965, Eido Shimano, now 77, has been the abbot, or head spiritual teacher, of the Zen Studies Society, a Japanese Buddhist community with headquarters on East 67th Street in Manhattan and a 1,400-acre monastery in the Catskills. For much of that time, there have been rumors about the married abbot’s sexual liaisons, with his students and with other women. Such rumors could no longer be ignored when, in 2008, the University of Hawaii at Manoa unsealed some papers donated by Robert Aitken, a leading American Buddhist and founder of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. The papers included files about Mr. Shimano that Mr. Aitken kept from 1964 to 2003. Mr. Aitken, who died Aug. 5, met Mr. Shimano when both men worked in Hawaii in the 1960s, and for more than 40 years he kept notes on his colleague’s liaisons, based on conversations with women who had confided in him. In a 1995 letter to the president of the Zen Studies Society’s board, (…) The Aitken papers were soon circulating on the Internet. On June 15, Mr. Shimano’s board of directors, which exercises ultimate authority in the society, met to discuss the allegations. Mr. Shimano, who was then on the board, was not present, but most board members concurred that the charges most likely had some validity. “I thought the sources were varied enough” to seem valid, said one board member, who asked not to be named. “I certainly didn’t think it was all a fraud.” At that meeting, the board members began writing a new set of ethical guidelines for the society. In the text, they included an acknowledgment of past indiscretions by Mr. Shimano. Chris Phelan, another board member, said that Mr. Shimano saw the text of the statement and approved of it. “He didn’t step forward and say he was being libeled,” Mr. Phelan said. Nonetheless, several board members told The New York Times that they believed that Mr. Shimano’s relations with students had ended long ago, and they saw no reason that Mr. Shimano could not continue teaching. “As far as I knew, there had been a hiatus of 15 years,” said Joe Marinello, a board member who is the abbot of the Seattle Zen Temple. But then, on July 19, the board announced that Mr. Shimano had resigned from the board after being confronted with allegations of “clergy misconduct.” The statement was sent in response to inquiries from Tricycle, a magazine about Buddhism. Since that time, the board has said that Mr. Shimano will continue as abbot until 2012, but a vice abbot has been appointed and Mr. Shimano will not be taking new students. So what had changed? A week after beginning work on new ethical guidelines — which in their final form forbid “sexual advances or liaisons” between teachers and sangha members — the board was confronted with a new revelation. (…) Shimano’s resigning from his own board — reflects how American religion has changed in the last 15 years. First, this more recent affair occurred in a different news media culture. Clerical impropriety is a hot topic, of course. And on the Internet, where several bloggers were scrutinizing the Aitken papers, the new affair was sure to be mentioned. “The Internet was turning the heat up,” one member said. Board members had to act; they could not afford to be seen as indifferent.
Vladimir K. and Stuart Lachs: In May, 2010, we received a CD collection of letters held at the University of Hawai’I at Manoa Library Archives. Robert Aitken Roshi, the founder of the Diamond Sangha, an international Zen sangha, has donated his extensive files to the university library. The letters were, until recently, part of the sealed section of Aitken’s voluminous papers. The collection is accompanied by a signed letter dated August 14, 2008, from Lynn Ann Davis, Head of the Preservation Department of the library attesting to their authenticity, and every page of each letter is stamped with the library’s stamp. The letters cover the period of 1964 through to 1984 and are devoted to the interactions, directly and indirectly, between Aitken Roshi and Eido Shimano Roshi of the New York-based Zen Studies Society. (…) The letters are concerned primarily with the “Shimano problem” (…) that first arose in 1964 in Hawai’I, where Aitken Roshi is based. Following is a summation of the extraordinary story, as explicated in the Aitken letters, of a Zen master teaching in America for some 35 years, who has been accused of sexual misconduct numerous times and yet was never called to task nor properly investigated. A thorough, open and public inquiry into these accusations is long overdue. It is inappropriate that in today’s climate, when many religious figures have been accused and found guilty of inappropriate sexual activities, that Zen Buddhist teachers should be exempt from similar inquiries and not be held to the highest standards of propriety. (…) Buddha laid down the rules for monks (the Vinaya) and one does not have to be familiar with the Vinaya to believe that lying, stealing or inappropriate sex would not be condoned within the rules. All Buddhist sects have a minimum of five precepts, known as the Five Grave Precepts: to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication. The number of precepts varies from sect to sect and for monks. (…) The essay traces the development of Eido Tai Shimano Roshi from a Zen monk who came to Hawaii as monk-in-residence at a Western Zen center, the Diamond Sangha, and, although accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with female Zen students there, became the abbot of a prominent Zen center in New York where he has been teaching for some forty years. The story is based exclusively upon the letters of the Robert Baker Aitken Papers held at the University of Hawai’I at Manoa Library Archives. The story shows that it is not only students who keep silent, but that there is sometimes a “conspiracy of silence” among some very prominent Zen teachers in both Japan and America. The following story refers to accusations against Eido Shimano Roshi, not proof of any wrongdoing. Eido Shimano Roshi has denied all wrongdoing and there has been no independent investigation into these accusations. It should be noted however, that at the height of the largest scandal involving Shimano, an investigation was stopped by Sylvan Bush, Shimano’s close associate and Acting President of the Zen Studies Society, who stated, “three unbiased members of the group could not be found.” At no time has anyone accused Eido Shimano Roshi of any criminal activities and therefore there have been no legal proceedings against him. (…) On August 9, 1995, an extraordinary letter was composed and sent to Richard Rudin, President of the Board of Directors, Zen Studies Society (…). The letter was signed by eight prominent American Zen teachers, including Robert Aitken Roshi and Philip Kapleau Roshi. The gist of the letter was that the undersigned believed that something had to be done about the Zen Studies Society leader of the previous 30 years or so, Eido Tai Shimano Roshi, the teacher at the Zen Studies Society’s two centres, Shoboji in New York City and Daibosatsu Monastery in the Catskills Mountains of New York State. The letter began by outlining the concerns of the teachers: “Over the past three decades, we have interviewed many former students of Shimano Roshi. Their stories are consistent: trust placed in an apparently wise and compassionate teacher, only to have that trust manipulated in the form of his sexual misconduct and abuse. Some of these students elected to continue their practice with us; most of them wanted nothing further to do with Zen Buddhism. With report after report of the same depressing story, it is clear to us that our colleague, Shimano Roshi, is not simply one who slips into an occasional love affair. We have no hesitation in judging from first-hand accounts that the quality of these relationships is not loving but exploitive and extremely damaging to his victims.” The letter went on, asking for Shimano’s resignation as the “most obvious solution to the problem” but leaving open the possibility of placing Shimano into “a program designed to help him with his harmful predilections”, noting that such a course may not be a “cure”. The authors also acknowledged the difficulty of the situation for the sangha: “Neither option is easy in the face of the emotional and financial investments of the Sangha and the teacher. However, we urge you to consider that your teacher is jeopardizing the Buddha’s noble teachings. The situation is grave and calls for action to prevent further harm. (…) Chasing people away from the Dharma is considered a major violation of a Zen monk’s vows. (…) The letter asked for a “timely response” and if a response was not forthcoming within a reasonable time, the undersigned would consider making it “an open letter”. Copies of this letter were sent to fourteen others involved in the Zen world, including the man under discussion, Eido Shimano Roshi. Whether there was a timely response or not is unclear, but the letter has never been made public until now and is hardly known in the wider American Zen community. But this letter was not the end of the story. (…) Shimano did not live up to Aitken’s expectations of how a Buddhist monk was to behave, living “anything but a retiring life”, sowing discord among the group and dressing “like a young man of commerce”, demanding a “substantial” salary. (…) In the spring of 1964, two women from the sangha were hospitalized with nervous breakdowns. One of the women spent the next five years in and out of hospital, living with the Aitkens when not hospitalized with mental illness. Aitken, feeling guilty that he had not noticed the impending breakdowns of the two women, began volunteer hospital work to learn more about mental health. Shimano accompanied him on his twice weekly visits. However, it was not long before a psychiatric social worker mentioned to the psychiatrist treating one of the women that Shimano’s name was recurring in the reports of the two mentally ill women. The social worker “concluded that Shimano was volunteering on the ward to prey upon other vulnerable women”. Appalled, Aitken questioned the psychiatrist who was treating one of the women. Aitken’s worst fears were confirmed. The psychiatrist who treated the second woman was no longer working at the hospital so Aitken wrote to him, questioning whether the allegations of sexual misconduct against Shimano were true. It took two weeks to receive a reply but the psychiatrist, Dr C. S. S., was unequivocal, writing in a letter dated August 8, 1964: “There is no reasonable doubt that this person [Shimano] while discussing the highest of intellectual and religious matters seduced and had sexual intercourse with Miss D. This apparently had a very destructive result….This business suggests that your resident monk is totally incapable of the philosophy and religion he superficially espouses…. I hope this letter will assist you in ridding your community of his perverse influence.” Robert Aitken felt that he could not confront Shimano with these allegations as “Our relationship was very poor, and we did not trust each other at all.” Nor did he feel that he could go public with these allegations, concerned as he was about the two women, and believing that the allegations “could divide the group irrevocably and lead nowhere”. Aitken decided to fly to Japan and consult with his teacher, Nakagawa Soen Roshi at Ryutakuji. Soen Roshi, teacher to both Aitken and Shimano, seemed unconcerned and took Aitken to meet with Yasutani Hakuun Roshi. Yasutani had been to America a number of times and had taken over the training of Shimano and seemed even less concerned with Aitken’s story. The meeting with the two Zen masters was disappointing. Some twenty years later Aitken wrote: “Their attitude seemed to be that Shimano had been irresponsible, and that we should encourage him to behave himself. I could not convey my newly found conviction that we were dealing with some kind of pathology.” (…) Aitken infers that he believes that Shimano may be suffering some form of mental illness or pathology, (…). Nevertheless, Shimano’s Japanese teachers “felt responsible for him, and were not prepared to disgrace him by recalling him to Japan.” Aitken returned to Honolulu with the issue unresolved. It seems that Soen Roshi and Yasutani Roshi, the two people closest to Shimano, both of whom were dependent on or needed Shimano for their movement to the West, failed to see problems with Shimano. Furthermore, the two Zen masters did not take into account the welfare of those Americans Shimano was trying to convert to Buddhism. Having sent Shimano as a Buddhist missionary to America, it appears that Soen and Yasutani were more concerned about their student than the people they were hoping to convert to Buddhism. (…) Events were not only unresolved, but were about to get worse. (…) Aitken notes that his original plan was to confront Shimano with the accusations and try to persuade him to return to Japan, and “it was weak of me not to insist on it”. (…) Aitken tries to explain to Soen Roshi the seriousness of the situation, noting that “The accusation made by the doctors against Tai San [Shimano] is very rare, really unheard of in its rarity,” emphasizing that “You may be sure that they [the psychiatrists] are 100% confident that they have the facts when they set anything down on paper.” Aitken goes on to state that Shimano is very angry with him, “so angry that he says he does not trust himself to see me for fear that he will do violence to me” and that “he could never forgive me”. It was in this letter of September 11, 1964, that Robert Aitken confirms that he will keep “silent about the incident,” pointing out that his first responsibility is to the two women affected. (…) Aitken regularly assured his teachers, Nakagawa Soen Roshi and Yasutani Roshi, that he was keeping the truth hidden. It would be many years before the events of 1964 became more widely known. (…) Yasutani points out that Shimano had been very helpful to him by acting as his translator on visits to America and that he [Yasutani] was responsible for Shimano’s training as a Zen priest. Yasutani acknowledged that while it was important to help lay people in Zen training, “it is more important to bring up or make a successor to be a Zen leader. This had been the most important thing for all Zen masters and it is why Zen has continued to exist.” Yasutani hoped to make Shimano a Zen master as “At present, Mr. Shimano is the only one who can be my successor.” (…) Calamity or not, Aitken still will not tell his sangha the truth about Shimano or why Yasutani will not be visiting Koko An. (…) Perhaps protecting the two women involved is no longer the primary issue. In a letter to Temple University professor of religion, Bernard Phillips, dated 27 December, 1964, Aitken, referring to the Shimano affair, claims that “It is no exaggeration to say that the American Dharma, such as it is, is at stake.” Although Aitken worried that “the American Dharma…is at stake”, he writes warm and courteous letters to the person who, in Aitken’s eyes, endangered the Dharma. (…) Miss D., one of the women who ended up in a mental hospital due to an affair with Shimano was a German citizen on an immigration visa and in danger of being deported if her illness was considered chronic. On April 1, 1965, Robert Aitken writes to Dr Linus C Pauling, Jr. seeking advice regarding what Miss D’s medical records show regarding the recurrence of her illness and “the role of another alien”, (but not mentioning Shimano by name). Aitken then goes on to claim, “We have disassociated ourselves with the latter individual but we have not as yet been successful in transferring his visa sponsorship.” Yet, just six weeks later, on May 19, Anne Aitken writes to Shimano regarding an upcoming sesshin with Yasutani Roshi, opening with “I hope that all is going well with you and that you are having a pleasant spring in New York” and concluding with “with best regards to you and to our friends in New York.” It would be nearly twenty years before the Aitkens would “disassociate” themselves publicly from Shimano. Throughout much of 1965, letters flow between Aitken, Shimano and people in New York City, trying to sort out Shimano’s visa as the Diamond Sangha is sponsor of Shimano and therefore legally liable for him. It appears that no one in New York is able or willing to become Shimano’s sponsor and in the letters by Shimano, he seems to dodge the issue. After nearly a year of pleading with Shimano to find a new sponsor, on July 1, 1965, Robert Aitken, as Chairman of the Diamond Sangha, sends a formal letter to Shimano suggesting that in three months time he will notify the Immigration Department that the sangha is no longer sponsor of Shimano. On August 5, 1965, Aitken sent a letter to Nakagawa Soen Roshi where he discusses the return to Hawai’I and the Aitkins’s home, Koko An, of one of the two women who were involved sexually with Shimano. Aitken, in describing the history of the case, mentions that Miss S. arrived in Hawai’I specifically because she heard that “an enlightened monk…could guide her to kensho.” Aitken went on: “He seduced her within a few days of her arrival, and they were lovers thereafter. She was surprised at this turn of affairs, but accepted it, thinking that it could be the means for her kensho.” Aitken speculates that the guilt Miss S. felt about deceiving the Aitkens may have led to her mental breakdown. He also reports that the other woman involved, Miss D., is “quite a lot worse, and is not allowed visitors at the hospital.” At this point, it is over a year since Miss D. has entered hospital. (…) By 1976 it appears that all is forgiven and on January 9, 1976, Shimano, who now signs off as “Eido Tai Shimano, Abbot, Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji” invites Aitken Roshi to participate, along with one or two of his students, in a week-long sesshin to be conducted by Nakagawa Soen Roshi at the newly built International Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji, with a dedication ceremony to follow the sesshin. The new center, built on 1400 acres in the Catskill Mountains of New York state at a cost of three million dollars (…). Aitken Roshi, despite almost certainly knowing of a major scandal that erupted in 1975 and the earlier problems with Shimano in Hawai’I, writes a lengthy acceptance letter the following day, agreeing to attend the opening of Dai Bosatsu Zendo. He also mentions bringing his leading student, Nelson Foster, with him and goes on to discuss Foster’s koan progress. Aitken’s cordiality towards Shimano is difficult to understand given that in 1964 he believed Shimano had some kind of pathological problem and that he feared that Shimano could damage the American Dharma. (…) In a hand-written letter dated February 21, 1981, Aitken Roshi announces that he will not attend a meeting of Zen teachers this year as he “could no longer pretend that Eido Roshi is my colleague.” (…) a few years later, events, once again, are to overtake the American Zen community. In 1982, a flurry of letters appear. Shimano is accused of trying to seduce a female student in dokusan. This time, however, the woman, Mrs R. W., is a reporter for the New York-based Village Voice weekly and the ABC television network. An exposé in a national newspaper is threatened. On September 14, 1982, George Zournas, President of the Board of Trustees of the Zen Studies Society and a member of Shimano’s group since 1966, writes a letter to the Board pointing out that on July 31 of that year he had submitted his resignation as President of the Board and suggests that it is time for Eido Shimano Roshi and his wife Aiho to leave. Zournas writes: “As you all know Eido Roshi now stands accused of seducing a student at the Holy Days Sesshin. This is not unique; as old members of the Sangha know that has happened again, and again and again. So much so that it has become a scandal in Zen Buddhist sanghas all over the world and other Zen teachers no longer send their students to us, or are obliged to warn their students about Eido Roshi if the student insists on coming.” Zournas goes on to point out that one of the Society’s major fund raisers, Margot Wilkie, resigned from the Board in 1975 due to the sex scandals of that period, and when Zournas is introduced to Ms Wilkie’s wealthy friends, he is met with snide remarks about Shimano such as, “How’s the horny old pasha and his harem up there in the mountains?” Funds from these former patrons dried up, forcing the Society to run on money “contributed to us by a convicted felon. We have been functioning on money that he obtained from selling illegal drugs!” Zournas also questioned the propriety of having Shimano’s wife as Treasurer, implying that perhaps all on the financial side was not above board. The 3-page letter ends with Zournas calling on Eido Roshi “to spare the Buddha Dharma and the Zen Studies Society further embarrassment and humiliation and follow through with his determination to resign.” And if Shimano does not go voluntarily, the Board should remove him and if that fails, “then I call on all people of conscience to resign from the Board of Trustees and encourage all other such people to resign from Dai Bosatsu and Shoboji.” As events unfolded, it became obvious that the Shimanos had no intention of resigning. With the support of some members of the board, one of whom, David Schnyer, according to Zournas’ letter, made the extraordinary comment, “Well, he hasn’t raped anyone yet, has he?”, Shimano held onto his post as Abbot of the Zen Studies Society. George Zournas wrote another letter to the sangha on September 20 stating that it was time “to face unflinchingly the sordid facts as they are,” calling the situation “terrible”. Zournas enclosed letters he had written about the Shimano situation in the previous few weeks and urged that the sangha members either sit at home or find some other Zen group to sit with. It was in this letter that Zournas quoted Shimano’s own teacher, Soen Roshi, as “publicly denouncing Eido Roshi as “a seducer of women and a liar””. An attempt to investigate the various charges against Shimano regarding his sexual activities was blocked when Shimano loyalist Sylvan Busch, the Acting President of the Zen Studies Society, “felt that it would be impossible to find three “neutral” people in the Sangha…forming a fair-minded committee of Sangha members to carefully investigate the charges that have been brought against Mr. Shimano by a number of his women students over the years.” (…) Eido Shimano concludes by calling Zournas’ allegations “clearly insane” and accuses Zournas of being “petty and childish and it is time you recognize that your outbursts of personal hatred do not help the Sangha.” (…) Zournas concludes: “When Soen Roshi said, “Eido’s shame is Soen’s shame, the shame of Dai Bosatsu is the shame of Ryutakuji and every Buddhist monastery in the world,” he spoke a very great truth, for indeed you are not the only one responsible for this terrible situation. Eido Roshi is responsible. Soen Roshi is responsible. I, Jochi, am responsible. Each member of the Sangha is responsible as well. We are all caught up in some very grievous error, and I pray that in the fullness of time our error will somehow be transformed into Buddha’s Wisdom.” (…) At the time of this writing, Eido Shimano Roshi is still abbot of the Zen Studies Society and no proper investigation into the accusations have been made. (…) Such disapproval did eventually come, some 13 years later in a 1995 letter to Richard Rudin, President of the Board of Directors, Zen Studies Society, signed by eight prominent American Zen teachers, including Robert Aitken Roshi and Philip Kapleau Roshi. The gist of the letter was that the undersigned believed that something had to be done about the Zen Studies Society leader of the previous 30 years or so, Eido Tai Shimano Roshi, the teacher at the Zen Studies Society’s two centres, Shoboji in New York City and Daibosatsu Monastery. But the letter has had little effect and is barely known in the American Zen community. It has generated no soul searching among the community. The American Zen Teacher’s Association, a group of ordained and lay Zen Buddhist teachers consisting of approximately 100 members, has never looked into the case nor made a public statement. In fact, Shimano’s lineage is recognized by the Association. Shimano Roshi’s home monastery, Ryutakuji, seems uninterested and its abbot appears to deny knowing of any problem. The questions raised by many of the New York sangha, how this was allowed to happen, why had the American Zen community remained silent, remain unanswered. However, the Aitken archive does give some clues and needs to be studied further. (…) It was not only American Zen teachers who failed here, but also Shimano’s own Japanese teachers, Nakagawa Soen Roshi, who gave Dharma transmission to Shimano, and Yasutani Hakuun Roshi, who did much of the training of Shimano and hoped Shimano would become his Dharma heir. Furthermore, the leaders at Shimano’s monastery, Ryutakuji, who had the power to rein in Shimano even after the death of Nakagawa Soen Roshi, also did nothing.
Myoshin-ji of Rinzai Zen: “Myoshin-ji has received many inquiries regarding its relationship with the Zen Studies Society in New York ever since the publication on 20 August 2010 of an article in the New York Times regarding the behavior of the Society’s former director, Eido Shimano. On the occasion of establishing the Zen Studies Society, Eido Shimano stipulated that the Society was to have no relation to Myoshin-ji or any other branch of Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism. As far as Myoshin-ji is concerned, all along it has had no connection with Eido Shimano, his activities or organizations, including Dai Bosatsu Zendo and all affiliated Zen Studies Society institutions, nor is Eido Shimano or any of his successors certified as priests of the Myoshin-ji branch of Zen or recognized as qualified teachers. 19th,Dec,2012 Myoshinji school of Rinzai Zen”
MARK OPPENHEIMER: “Zen Studies Society board had met to discuss allegations of several decades of sexual impropriety, allegations that had surfaced on the Internet. The charges were damning, and well sourced, and Shimano had not denied them. The board had drafted a new set of ethical guidelines, the text of which included an acknowledgment of past indiscretions by Shimano. The hope had been that this new ethics statement would resolve the online rumors, which largely referred to events many years in the past. But news of this more recent affair spread quickly, and it forced prompt action. On July 19, 2010, Shimano resigned from the board of the Zen Studies Society and said that he would step down as abbot in 2012. (…) On August 20, 2010, I wrote an article for The New York Times in which I described the online allegations, recounted Daphna’s bombshell at Dai Bosatsu, and quoted several sources discussing the board’s deliberations. My article seemed to hasten Shimano’s departure: on September 7, he announced in a letter that rather than waiting until 2012, he would step down as abbot at the end of the year. Shimano did leave, but he did not go quietly. He has taken with him some of the wealthiest students, leaving the Zen Studies Society in financial straits—nearly broke, according to some people. Shimano is still living in the uptown apartment that the Zen Studies Society bought in 1984 and has always paid to maintain. And he is currently suing his old society for the pension that he says he is owed, but which the society’s new leadership says he forfeited with his decades of bad behavior. In response to those charges, Shimano is arguing that, first, he was never the womanizer that he is alleged to be, and second, even if he was, that is no grounds to void his contract. According to Shimano, sex with students is not a violation of Buddhist precepts. By sleeping with a student, he now says, he might have been doing her a favor. Shimano’s defense, as outrageous as it may sound to some, is worth inspecting. Not because I side with Shimano, but because his views of sexuality are widely held in certain precincts of American Buddhism. In this country, we have learned the hard way that religiosity is no guarantor of morality. (…) In the 1960s, four major Zen teachers came to the United States from Japan: Shunryu Suzuki, Taizan Maezumi, Joshu Sasaki, and Eido Shimano. Andy Afable, one of Shimano’s former head monks, called these four the “major missionaries” of Zen, as they had all received “transmission” from leading Japanese teachers: that is, they had been deemed worthy to be the heirs, to be responsible for the persistence of the teachings. And three of the four, Afable noted when we spoke, have caused major public sex scandals: first Maezumi, and more recently Shimano and Sasaki. (…) In our conversations, Shimano admitted to having sex with some students, “far fewer” than 12 as he put it. He would not answer questions about specific women, and he never replied to specific questions submitted to his lawyer. But his critics say that regardless of the numbers, or one’s definition of consent, Shimano is guilty of a kind of spiritual malpractice. They say that he took advantage of his spiritual power—his authority, his charisma—to persuade women to do things that they did not want to do, and that when he eventually ignored or left them, they sometimes lost their faith, even their minds. (…) Whether or not Shimano’s behavior ran contrary to Buddhist ethics—and most Buddhists would say that it clearly did—it surely corrupted, and ultimately may have destroyed, his sangha. Yet his community is partly to blame. Shimano’s womanizing was never a secret, but his followers pretended not to see. Then forgave him. They believed him when he promised to change. They made excuses when he did not. When, several times, his behavior got so bad that board members resigned and monks abandoned residential life at Dai Bosatsu, Shimano endured, stayed at the helm, found new recruits. He paid no price. The important question for any religious community is not why there are scoundrels—they will always be with us—but how they are dealt with. Not why there is a Shimano, but why his leadership lasted so long. From the first inkling of Shimano’s problem to his final expulsion, the sangha failed for nearly 50 years to confront a sexual predator in their midst. For lethargy and indifference, it is a record to rival that of the Catholic Church toward its pedophiles. (…) There’s little doubt that Shimano was the beneficiary of his own charm and shrewdness. He benefitted from the fear that his power instilled—a fear that silenced critics and even journalists who tried to discover the truth. (…) Buddhists protected Shimano to protect Buddhism itself. That was the earliest, and remains the most important, reason Shimano’s behavior was tolerated. (…) Buddhism is still fighting for acceptance. A sex scandal, its practitioners know, would not help matters. (…) Robert Aitken (…) sitting with some of the leading Japanese masters, like Hakuun Yasutani and Soen Nakagawa (…) soon would be the first of many in the burgeoning American Buddhist community to cover up Shimano’s sexual secrets. (…) According to Aitken’s note, he and Shimano had jointly decided to volunteer at Queen’s Medical Center, hoping to learn a bit about mental illness. Two female Zen students from their sangha had recently been hospitalized there for “mental breakdowns.” That’s when a psychiatric social worker noticed something curious: a name from their case records—Shimano’s—was the same as one of the hospital’s volunteers. This coincidence was passed along to Dr. Linus Pauling Jr., a psychiatrist at the hospital—and the son of the Nobel Prize–winning chemist—who investigated the matter, then reported back to Aitken that Shimano had played a role in the women’s breakdowns. (…) Aitken claimed that he made his own inquiries; he was vague about what he found, but he became convinced that Shimano “had indeed played such a role” in the women’s breakdowns and was guilty of “ruthless … exploitation” of the women. “I felt,” Aitken wrote, “that if I confronted him with the evidence, he would deny everything, and the Sangha members generally would support him. Further, I was concerned about protecting the two women. I decided to go to Japan to consult with Soen Roshi and Yasutani Roshi. (…) “Both he and Yasutani Roshi could believe that [Shimano] had been philandering, but could not accept the idea that he was pathologically compulsive.” (…) Nakagawa and Yasutani—neither of whom, it turns out, doubted that Shimano was capable of sleeping around, but both of whom seemed unwilling to accept that this behavior was really a problem. (…) Shimano had a problem, the elders seemed to tell Aitken, but surely nothing that couldn’t be controlled. (…) Zen has a pronounced sense of lineage. One becomes a teacher by receiving “dharma transmission” from one’s own teacher. And within the community, students always know who has “sat” with whom. In this way, honor accrues to students who have sat with important teachers. Shimano would thus be forever linked with Aitken, who, as far as most American Buddhists knew, was still Shimano’s sponsor, even mentor, in the United States. This connection must have been an enduring source of shame and regret to Aitken, who for the rest of his life would hear about Shimano’s exploitation of women. Yet Aitken never went public with what he knew about Shimano, not in 1964, and not for the next half century until his death. In a letter to two fellow Buddhists on September 22, 1964, (…) theletter makes even plainer why Aitken wanted to protect Shimano: Zen Buddhism was, as far as Aitken could tell, failing in the United States. (…) Tormented, Robert Aitken saved his correspondence with and about Shimano. He must have made it known what he was doing, keeping the definitive dossier on Shimano, because over the years insiders leaked to him copies of private letters to the Zen Studies Society board, minutes of board deliberations, and other documents that helped complete the story of Shimano’s predations from the time he left Hawaii until several years before Aitken’s death, in 2010. In 2003, Aitken gave the papers to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and in 2008, just after his 90th birthday, he agreed to allow public access to the papers he had been saving for 45 years. At the very beginning of the archive are Aitken’s anguished letters about the women in Hawaii. On August 24, 1964, Aiken wrote to Nakagawa, the Japanese teacher, “The whole thing hinges on the matter of mental health. If the girls had come to their priest in search of sex, and had found sex, then surely there would have been no mental breakdown afterward. But, the way Dr. Smith expresses it, they came in search of Zen and found sex, and therefore broke down.” A year later, on August 5, 1965, Aitken was again writing to Nakagawa; Shimano had gone to New York, but Aitken was unable to get the two women off his mind: “He seduced [one of the two women] within a few days of her arrival, and they were lovers thereafter. She was surprised at this turn of affairs, but accepted it, thinking that it could be a means for her kensho”—her moment of enlightenment. (…) 15 years later you come to a letter of January 30, 1979, by the anonymous authors who called themselves “Your Friends in the Dharma.” In their letter, to the whole sangha, they again point to Shimano’s preference for unstable women: “Eido Roshi has beyond doubt disgracefully abused his role as teacher and betrayed the trust of his students by continuing to commit acts with the females of our sangha … Eido Roshi knowingly takes advantage of girls in mentally unstable condition and emotional vulnerability who come to him seeking spiritual help and guidance. In face of these deplorable actions and the concern of our sangha, Eido Roshi has continually denied his involvement, and maintained an attitude that he is beyond questioning. We feel it’s time to question.” One particularly poignant letter in the archive, dated February 20, 1979, is from one female former student, whom I have identified as Merry Benezra, to another student, who does not want to be named. I have interviewed both students in the past year, and they stand by their stories. Benezra herself never had sex with Shimano, although, as she writes, she “experienced quite a bit of sexual ‘harassment’ from Eido Roshi (from innuendo to proposition)” during two stays at Dai Bosatsu. During the first stay, the harassment was “just a barrage.” For months she spoke of the incidents to no one. (…) We can see how women were in a special bind. If they spoke the truth about how women were treated within the sangha, either they would be called liars, or people would believe them, and fewer women would join the sangha, making it even more of a male redoubt. By condemning one man, they might undo the progress women had made against patriarchy. They would be left with an all-male sangha, like the old monasteries of Japan. The only option, it seemed, was to stay quiet. Benezra was not oblivious to women’s dilemma; she was angry about it, and she was finally ready to make waves. (…) As far as we know, Shimano has never taken a sexual interest in men. But, as Kobutsu Malone could testitfy, Shimano’s activities harmed men, too. One of the most pained documents in the archive is titled “An Open Letter to My Teacher, Eido Tai Shimano,” and it was written March 29, 1979, by the monk Adam Fisher. (…) We thought Eido Roshi would be out in a week. We thought the board of directors would have to take action. As for the board of directors, they are in some ways the second villain of the archives. Friendly with Shimano, loyal to him, unable to hear criticism (…) they were so uniformly committed to Shimano that in 1982, when the board president, George Zournas, finally decided to do something, he found that he had no support at all. He wrote to his fellow board members: “I am sure you have been aware of the undercurrent of disease that has been running through the zendo over the past several months. Some of you have learned that this has been caused by the latest in a long series of accusations against Eido Roshi by young women who say they have been seduced by him in the dokusan room … This is but the most recent of a long series of such seductions, dating back to Eido Roshi’s time in Hawaii in the 1960s. Over the past sixteen years as [a] member of the Board of Trustees of the Zen Studies Society and more recently as president of that Society, I have attempted to make excuses for Eido Roshi and to cover up the scandals as best I could. Now, however, sickened by this latest outrage … I have resigned from the presidency of the Board of Trustees and from the Board itself.” The archive is thus a record of two contradictory impulses. On the one hand this is a Buddhist community of great vigor and activity: daily zazen, weeklong sesshins, large growth in membership, successful building projects, fawning attention from the media. Yet at the same time there is a peculiar timidity, a fear that to speak about Shimano’s sexual life would snip the spine of the whole sangha, would paralyze the life force that had come to animate it all. (…) I heard from women who had slept with Shimano that he had accused either them or other sex partners of being mentally unstable. And when I asked, in our second interview, about his well-documented break with Soen Nakagawa, his mentor in Japan, Shimano said that “about fifteen years prior to his death,” Nakagawa “had a serious accident.” According to Shimano, Nakagawa “fell from tree and hit his head strongly. So Soen Roshi that many people know before accident and Soen Roshi after the accident are two different people.” (…) Shimano would not, I think, have tried such theories on me unless he had a reasonable expectation that I would believe them. He knows that it is easier, and more flattering to our faith in human nature, to decide that his accusers are a little touched than to think that a Zen master would slander his followers with lies, gossip, or appeals to homophobia. And so the arc of Shimano’s narrative bends, inevitably, toward his own anointing. (…) On the day that he approached her in the library, Wood had sex with Shimano for the first time. “I would far have preferred that it not have happened,” she said. “So I can’t say that it was consensual. He was pretty aggressive. I felt some of that predatory stuff.” (…) Shimano had also failed to mention that he was married, a fact that later made Wood question his “so-called enlightenment.” She raised the issue one time when she wanted to avoid having sex with him. “I said, ‘But you have a wife’—I was thinking of all the ways I could to get out of this thing—and he said she was in Japan and was mentally ill. He did this to women across the board. Whenever he was finished with someone or displeased with someone, if it was a woman, she was mentally ill. He did that with me too.” (…) What finally gave Wood the strength just to say no? The presence of Shimano’s wife: “One day, while I was the cook, I came out into the dining room, and there was a new woman, a Japanese woman, and I went over to introduce myself to her, ask if she had been there before. And everyone laughed! Turned out it was his wife. Even though she was there, he asked me to come up to his room, and I said, ‘Your wife is here!’ And he said, ‘That’s okay, she’s staying in another room.’ And that’s when I said no. (…) Soon thereafter, Wood discovered that Shimano was also sleeping with the woman in the room next to hers. Had it only been the sex, lies, and secrecy, Wood might not feel as wounded as she does. (…) Wood returned to the monastery to collect her belongings. While there, she approached an older woman, a member of the board of directors. And told her what Shimano was doing. “This is what is happening,” she told her. “You have to stop it.” She later heard that, when confronted, Shimano said that she was crazy. (…) Like Olivia Wood, Elaine had been abused as a child; like Robin Westen, she came to Shimano on the recommendation of Min Pai, with whom she had studied. In short, she too was drawn to gurus who offered the promise of healing. (…) For the first four years, she and Shimano did not have sex. Elaine insisted that when they finally did, it was consensual and not exploitative. But her language was ambiguous. “Eido Roshi—in my day he was more subtle in his exploitation of us,” Elaine said. (…) Elaine believed that what Shimano did with vulnerable students was abuse. She called him a narcissist. He was “always hurting people,” she told me. (…) He said that in a way I was more enlightened than him, which is pretty big.” She stayed with Shimano for 11 years, having sex with him, off and on, for the last seven. (…) Eventually, however, Elaine knew that she had to leave. He was sleeping with other women, and it tormented her. (…) Robin Westen told me, it’s a cult. (…) If women and men hoped that Shimano could make them whole, they stayed because it seemed that he was the only one who could. (…) And when students identify Zen practice wholly with one teacher, their practice might not survive a rupture in the relationship. (…) Anna left Dai Bosatsu convinced that what Shimano had done to her was criminal; she told her story to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, but it did not find sufficient evidence to charge Shimano with a crime. (The assistant district attorney who had met with Anna remembered the case, but her notes from that meeting, more than 20 years ago, did not survive.) Yet Anna eventually decided that Shimano’s great crime was robbing her of her Zen practice. She never found another sangha, and, after all her years with Shimano, she never connected with another teacher. By insisting on being her lover, Shimano robbed her of a teacher. (…) Zen Studies Society is arguing that Shimano should not have had sex with students—but that if he was going to have sex with students, then publicly known sex was especially bad, because it could harm the organization’s reputation, causing donations to fall. So if there isn’t money to pay Shimano’s pension—which, according to many sources I spoke with, there isn’t—then it is mostly Shimano’s fault. Because he couldn’t keep his sex secret. (…)For if there have been rumors of Shimano’s womanizing for so many decades, then the Zen Studies Society must have known about the rumors in 1995, when they promised the Shimanos a pension. How, Gerzog asked, can they now turn around and say that Shimano was not providing sound ethical leadership? (…) June 20, 2013, at Montebello, a New York City restaurant, Shimano did say that he has had sex with “far fewer” than 12 of his students. And Gerzog did allow Shimano to answer my general questions about sex between teachers and students. I asked, “Is there any ethical concern relating to affairs between teachers and students?” And Shimano replied, after some hesitation, “I guess—I guess—no matter what, it should belong to [the] unethical category.” I reiterated: “It should belong to the unethical category? Teachers should not have affairs with their students in Buddhism?” And Shimano said, “Even—no matter how aggressive the student may be.” (…) Sherry Chayat, the new abbot, or head priest, of the Zen Studies Society, is 70 years old. She was raised Jewish, and she is going through her second divorce; her first marriage was to a noted Buddhist teacher, Lou Nordstrom, who used to be close to Shimano but will no longer speak of him. Chayat is a dharma heir of Shimano’s, a chosen disciple, whom Shimano handpicked as his successor. When Shimano agreed to step aside in 2010, he and Chayat, who goes by the dharma name Roko, had a warm relationship; in fact, she was generally derided by Shimano’s critics as a patsy, eager to believe anything he said, or perhaps too afraid to challenge him. In the past two years, however, and especially since the lawsuit was filed, they have become adversaries. In an October 2012 e-mail about some rather arcane controversies concerning Shimano’s Japanese Buddhist lineage, an e-mail that I have obtained, Chayat wrote, “The reason we are in such a mess is that we believed in a manipulative sociopath.” Having to face Shimano’s true nature, having to acknowledge the depth of his possible transgressions, and having to defend against a lawsuit brought by her former teacher have been painful aspects of Chayat’s job as abbot. But these new and unwelcome responsibilities cannot be wholly surprising for her, as she herself left Shimano’s sangha in 1976 because of his sexual indiscretions—then in 1990 accepted an invitation to return. When she and I met upstairs at the East 67th Street zendo in October 2012, she spoke to me of her gratitude to Shimano. It’s the kind of gratitude you have, she said, “when you’ve had a teacher who’s brilliant, who has shown you the way in a fundamental sense, not in a relative sense. Who has really been able to help you see for yourself the fundamental reality beyond the duality of good and evil.” (…) “When you yourself are so in the light, you may not see your own shadows very well,” Chayat said, about Shimano. “He is a remarkably astute, deep, profound, spiritually evolved, charismatic leader. But as we know there can be these flaws.” In an e-mail months later, she clarified the term flaws: “As we have come to realize, there has been a long history of secret maneuvering and sexual misconduct.” Although our conversation occurred less than a week after Chayat had referred to Shimano as a “sociopath” (…). “Someone said that in the early years you had a relationship with him,” I said to her. Several members of the sangha had in fact told me that Chayat could never possibly make a clean break with the Shimano era, since she had her own secrets to protect. “You know,” she said, “I had, like many women, perhaps a surprising physical approach that never led to an affair. So, no. Working very closely together, you felt it’s natural if someone throws their arms around you and starts kissing you. It wasn’t a big deal. It didn’t go anywhere. (…) I had physical contact with him.” This was in the summer of 1974, she later told me. “There was a passionate embrace. But it didn’t—I guess I was surprised, but it wasn’t something that harmed me in any way … I was married, he was married, we were both at the monastery. For some reason it never went any further. If I had been given the choice to go further, I probably would have. Everybody was in love with him.” (…) “All of this has not made me feel any less grateful to him as a profoundly realized teacher,” Chayat said of the whole ordeal. “But I also feel a deep sadness, deep regret about people having—the alleged relationships’ having harmed people. “So I feel both, at the same time.”
JAY MICHAELSON: “Shimano wove a web of deceit around him, and his associates added layers of obfuscation and denial. Whatever the sex may have been like for some of the women involved, the hypocrisy, secrecy, and lies are indisputable. And Shimano’s alleged M.O. – of finding the “needy” woman, exploiting her vulnerability, and having sexual relations within the walls of the Zendo itself – is worse than creepy, no matter what robes the predator is wearing.”
Joan Halifax, Founding Abbot, Upaya Zen Center: “Open Letter from Roshi regarding Eido Shimano. Dear Daibosatzu Board and Practitioners, I am Founding Abbot of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a woman, a Zen practitioner since 1965, and someone who was sexually assaulted by one of her Buddhist teachers years ago. I have been following the discussion on the AZTA for many months about the Eido Shimano “case”. I use the term “case” not to mean koan, but in a legalistic sense. For just as the former Israeli president has just been convicted in a court of law of rape and sexual harassment, so also is Eido Shimano vulnerable to such an indictment. For many years, I have heard about the sexual behavior of Eido Shimano toward his female students; there has long been talk about many of the Buddhist teachers who have violated sexual boundaries with their students. Sadly, the list of Buddhist teachers who have had intercourse with their students is not short. We have also been aware of not only of teachers having sex in the dokusan room but of teachers engaging in sexual violence toward their students as well. For those of us who are not only teachers but women, the misogyny that we have encountered when we have brought these violations to the attention of others has been often concerning. For like many rape victims, we have been seen as somehow culpable, have been ignored, criticized, or shunned. I want to say that I am grateful and am relieved that Eido Shimano has resigned from his abbacy and the Zen Center Board (….). We live in a time when there should be zero tolerance of the violation of professional boundaries, and most particularly sexual abuse on the part of leaders, whether they be a president of a country, a prime minister, or a minister, whether psychologist or social worker, whether monk or manager. Somehow, many of us in the Zen mahasangha thought this situation at your center was moving toward a decent resolution under the aegis of the Faith/Trust Institute. I need to tell you that, among many others, I am shocked and dismayed by the seeming lack of real remorse and understanding on the part of Eido Shimano as per his recent letter to the NYTimes. His behavior verges on sociopathy, or a total lack of feeling, of shame, and of regard for others. This situation is complicated by another level as well. Perhaps it is too difficult for Eido Shimano’s students and the Board of his organization to look with clear eyes at the depth of his delusion. Forgive my presumption, but let me share a little psychology with you. Accordingly, the Antisocial personality disorder (adyp or Atu) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as “…a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.” “Characteristics of people with antisocial personality disorder may include: Persistent lying or stealing. Apparent lack of remorse or empathy for others. Cruelty to animals Poor behavioral controls — expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper. A history of childhood conduct disorder. Recurring difficulties with the law. Promiscuity. Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others. Aggressive, often violent behavior; prone to getting involved in fights. Inability to tolerate boredom. Poor or abusive relationships. Irresponsible work behavior. Disregard for safety. “Other common characteristics of those with Antisocial Personality Disorder include superficial charm, shallowed emotions, a distorted sense of self, a constant search for new sensations (which can have bizarre consequences), a tendency to physically or verbally abuse peers or relatives, and manipulation of others without remorse or empathy for the victim. Egocentrism, megalomania, lack of responsibility, extroversion, excessive hedonism, high impulsivity, and the desire to experience sensations of control and power can also be present.” I think this description must be somewhat familiar to many of you…… Many of us have experienced being under the spell of a teacher or person of authority. Some of us have seen our own students caught in the trance of positive projections. But our practice is about waking up and ending suffering, being real and being courageous in dealing with mara, and actualizing compassion, even a compassion that might seem ruthless. We have to realize that the three-fold training is clear on the matter of sex and ethics, physical abuse and sangha relationships, and the role of wisdom and compassion in relation to the three jewels. And we have to see our teachers in a totally realistic light, including their feet of clay. I also want to say that it is not that Eido Shimano is a scapegoat for all other spiritual teachers who have violated sexual boundaries and engaging in sexually abusive (and probably addictive) behavior. I hope that by bringing this situation to the world’s attention through Aitken’s now-public archive, the NYTimes article, and the increasing storm of emails, blogposts, (…) the sexual abuse of women by Buddhist teachers will diminish, if not end, through strong negative sanctions of those who have engaged in activities such as this. Yet under the circumstances you find yourselves in, I think it might be difficult to stand up to someone like Eido, between the denial, guilt and shame associated with unconsciously enabling him, and the power dynamic between Eido and his students, coupled with cultural differences. But sometimes, we simply have to take a stand, and take a stand for the greater good, even though it is difficult to do. This is a time when I hope that the DBZ Board will do exactly this, and not fall into the pattern of denial and retreat that has prevailed at your center (and at many other Buddhist centers as well). Like family members in dysfunctional families, it is important to realize that every one of us is complicit in some way, including the wider Buddhist community, as we all knew what was going on. At last, you are hearing from members of the greater sangha, and the message is clear: firmly and forever retire your founding abbot, forbid him to teach ever again, and formally forbid him to see students in the privacy of the dokusan room or in any kind of interview situation. I would also ask you to commit to adequate remediation for those who were subject to his predation and his sexual and physical abuse, and make public your stance in all this. If you do not respond responsibly, then you will be held accountable in one way or another, sooner or later. Even if you walk away from your board or your monastery (a form of denial), you will carry this history of abuse with you, and your passivity in relation to it. To put it simply, Eido Shimano is an embarrassment to Buddhism, including all of Zen Buddhism, and Japanese Buddhism, in particular. I am concerned that if you, as his Board and monks do not take action, we will be sanctioning this kind of egregious abusive, gender-biased, predatory, misogynistic behavior in our temples and monasteries. We vow, as Buddhists to do no harm. I urge you to end the harm, and end it now. The sexual abuse of women is no small matter globally. It takes profound commitment to deal with this issue. Humbly, I feel that we as Buddhists need to clean up the scene in our own backyard, and clean it up now. We all share this karma, and we must share the correction process as well. Compassion tells us that, and we have to not only listen but as well to act. Thus these letters you are currently receiving……. Please heed them, and heed them well. I do feel deeply about this issue since so many women have passed through my zendo diminished and damaged as a result of having been subjected to sexual boundary violations by their teachers; some have been physically abused; others have been psychologically intimidated and then forced into sex. Some women were plainly deluded and hungry for acknowledgment, and in some way, power; others were coerced, shamed, and some were threatened; others were entranced and tricked. In the end, after all is said and done, most have wanted to abandon their Buddhist practice, finding Buddhism too passive and uncaring, if not dangerous. As a result of what I have borne witness to in others and myself, as well as bearing witness to women who have been raped in the context of war or extreme family abuse, I would suggest here that we need to actualize a compassion that is more skillful and much braver at this time. I hope you will consider that standing aside might not be the best route in terms of this situation with Eido Shimano. I hope you will be courageous and forthright and not take the road of compromise. For it has been compromise, I believe, and lack of ethical resolve that has given rise to our collective suffering in this situation, the individual suffering of the women who have been subjected to this abuse, and to the deep suffering in your sangha. PS: By the way, one of your ex-monks has written to the AZTA that letters will have no impact on your decisions regarding Eido Shimano. I hope this is not the case. Even this monk’s statement shows that he lacks the morale resolve to take a public step; it seems he, like others in your community, feels that there is no decent resolution and he is hopeless. I hope you do not share his sentiments, but have the courage to put an end to this abuse forever in your community.”
Erik Storlie: “Lineage Delusions: Eido Shimano Roshi, Dharma Transmission, and American Zen. In August 2010 The New York Times exposed the persistent failure of both the Zen Studies Society of New York and the larger American Zen Buddhist community to address Eido Shimano Roshi’s forty year history of sexual abuse of women – and the desire, even now, to excuse or “explain” him. Equally distressing were Robert Aitken’s posthumous letters, recently made available, revealing that Aitken, a deeply respected founder in American Zen, had lied for decades about Shimano’s misconduct in order to protect, as Aitken explained it, “the American Dharma.” Were this an isolated case, it would not matter very much, except, of course, to the victims. (…) The Shimano scandal reminds me of why, some years ago, I refused the opportunity to become a Zen “dharma heir.” I refused, knowing that, without this title, despite forty years of training and practice, I would never be a recognized Zen meditation teacher. The offer was generous. But to have accepted would have been tacitly to endorse a credential that conferred great authority – yet was given at the pleasure of a single person and based on a fantasy. The doctrine of dharma transmission hangs on four overlapping assumptions, all of which must be true to establish its credibility. (…) that an unbroken chain of such “mind to mind” transmissions has descended, generation after generation, in a known lineage, down to today’s living dharma heirs, is simply false on historical grounds. As Edward Conze, the great scholar of Indian Buddhism noted, “much of the traditions about the early history of Ch’an are the inventions of a later age” – inventions befitting a Chinese culture that deeply honored family lineages traced through renowned ancestors. (…) that every such transmission from master to disciple over the last 2500 years was genuine, is contradicted by the behavior of Shimano himself – and, sadly, of any number of Asian and American teachers. Stated simply, the doctrine of dharma transmission is just one more among the many attractive delusions held by human beings. Unfortunately, adherence to it gives the dharma heir a very powerful – and potentially dangerous – authority within the community of Zen practitioners, much as does the doctrine of the Apostolic Succession in the Roman Catholic Church, where the recent child abuse scandals illustrate the dangers of priesthoods that claim an authority beyond the ordinary and human. Those in such positions are sorely tempted to protect each other, ignoring or covering up the harm done by their colleagues. So long as American Zen relies on dharma transmission as a credential, there will be one Shimano after another – and dharma heirs who will go to great lengths to protect the master that conferred authority upon them. For if the master who has declared me awakened has erred, if he does not, indeed, “dwell in the Absolute,” then my own credential is called into question – along with my prestige and authority in the community and my ability to confer this power upon others. Even if the magical claims of dharma transmission are discarded and it is recognized as an ordinary human institution, it still should not be retained as a method of training Zen meditation teachers. (…) Indeed, as a method, it creates toxic interpersonal dynamics in communities, for the future recognition or preferment of a student is entirely dependent upon pleasing a dharma heir, or a presumptive dharma heir. (…) Yet, of course, my ability to please a dharma heir and receive, in my turn, recognition and/or authorization will give me status and even employment opportunities. (…) If they are indeed authoritative, the Buddha himself never had any notion of the creation of a lineage of dharma heirs. We must move beyond dharma transmission and construct approaches by which teachers of American Zen Buddhist meditation can be prepared effectively – and transparently. (…) Zen must undergo its own painful Protestant Reformation – the deconstruction of lineage.”
Kokan Genjo Marinello Osho: “During this and every sesshin that I lead I offer dokusan (one on one Dharma dialogue). In dokusan, I’m reminded of just how intimate and deep the relationship can be between so called student and teacher and what a severe betrayal of trust it would be to in anyway take advantage or manipulate a student for my own selfish purposes. I very well understand that if the manipulation included sexualizing the student in some way it would be a violation tantamount to incest. (…)Including Joriki and myself there are many other ordained and lay sangha members from around the nation who no longer feel comfortable training at Dai Bosatsu Zendo (DBZ). Of course it was principally Eido Shimano “Roshi,” who has multiple times been disgraced for preying sexually on female sangha members for decades and otherwise abusing his power and authority, who founded this organization. The latest wave of sangha members to leave came about when it was revealed in May 2010 that Shimano had been caught once again with his pants down. I was on the Zen Studies Society (ZSS) board and head of the ZSS Ethics committee at that time, and immediately asked Eido Roshi to resign from the board while the most recent transgression was investigated. Eventually, I was the last of five ZSS board members to leave the organization because of continued excuses, allowances and out right enabling provided to Shimano by the remaining ZSS board led by Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat. (…) in my mind, not nearly enough has been done to listen and respond to those harmed and alienated. Furthermore, as late as August 2012, Eido Shimano, who Shinge privately calls a “manipulative sociopath,” was invited to DBZ as an honored guest to help lead the “Sanmon Gate Ceremony.” Moreover, the most recent issue, January 2014, of the ZSS newsletter features a lead article by Eido Shimano’s newly elevated Dharma Successor, Zenrin R. Lewis. The last time I met with him at DBZ early in 2011, well after it had been established that Eido Shimano had continued unabated his sexual predation of students, he was trying to convince the ZSS board to continue to forgive Eido Shimano’s transgressions, told us we should have no expectation that Shimano could tell the truth, and above all work to assist him to have someplace to continue teaching. Zenrin himself continues to train with Eido Shimano today at what is called the “Hidden Zendo.” It seems clear to me that ZSS by featuring an article by Zenrin and continuing to list his organization on their web site as a related Zen center is offering implicit approval of Zenrin and Eido Shimano’s continued teaching of students. This boggles my mind to say the least. It is offering this kind of support, indirect as it may be, that is a real slap in the face to those directly harmed by Eido Shimano. Why does Shinge Chayat and the ZSS Board continue to enable a man who has little to no understanding of the harm done to American Zen?”
Genjo Osho Marinello: “Eido Shimano agrees that a Zen teacher should not be sexual with students; however, this has never stopped him from being a pathological liar and sexual predator of his own sangha. Zenrin accepts that Eido Shimano has done the best he can and supports his continued teaching and actively continues to train with him. I don’t care if Zenrin is a member of AZTA or not, we have no way to say if a member is in good standing or not. Nevertheless, I am in charge making additions and changes to the AZTA database, and I will not tolerate any longer the use of our database to refer people to a teacher and organization that continues to train with Eido Shimano. So hearing no objection I have deleted his listing from our public database. If there is a vote to return him to our database, I will not implement it; however, I will resign from this organization and someone else may then restore it.”
Myoan Grace Schireson: “I liked Michaelson’s review, particularly where he supported Oppenheimer’s finding that Shimano and his sangha covered up what had happened including the women’s complaints and the sangha protests for the sake of the continuation of Zen Studies Society (ZSS). This is the painful and disturbing core at the heart of the cover up— the ZSS community (both the Board of Directors and the leadership) and other Zen teachers believed that the cover-up was necessary to support ZSS and the unfolding of Zen in the West. For the past 2500 years, Buddhaharma has continued on its inherent integrity and its development of mature teachers. It has not survived because of corruption and cover-ups, but it has survived despite them. (…) I cannot support the idea that the community or the ZSS misperceived Shimano’s sexually predatory behavior due to “cultural differences” for several reasons: the amount of time Shimano lived in the West, the amount of information he received from the women who were harmed, and the male culture of sexual privilege that does not differ between Japan and the West. Shimano from the beginning of his involvement with Aitken Roshi’s sangha (1960’s) was told that his sexual behavior was harmful to women practitioners. After being told about the results of his sexual predation early on, and then repeatedly engaging in the same sexually predatory behaviors, and after living in the United States for decades, we cannot say that Shimano was living by some imagined Japanese standard that approved of him harming students in this way. Having been a first-hand listener to adult women describing their protests and their weeping through Shimano’s sexual coercion during this so-called consensual sex, I believe that cultural differences cannot account for his sexual coercion, his alleged predation on the vulnerable, and his seemingly voracious sexual appetite. Sexual coercion, date rape and rape are on a continuum. This is an expression of pathology, and so is sexual addiction. When this behavior is repeated many times with women in a more vulnerable position within the sangha, and when Shimano was told repeatedly of the harm he had caused, I believe it more realistic to consider this behavior as predatory and disturbed rather than culturally inappropriate. Furthermore, both Japanese men in power and Western men in power tend to indulge in sexual encounters with subordinates as part of their privileged position. Whether they are US President, congressman, or business man, or spiritual teacher or minister, sexual liaisons seem to be included in male privilege all over the world. Sadly, repeatedly acting out sexual affairs with subordinates is not seen as sexual addiction, but as a preference or privilege. Recognizing and admitting a sexual addiction could allow treatment for the addict. (…) The secret about Shimano’s sexual predation and harm to his students, in the opinion of Mark Oppenheimer, Jay Michelson and myself, was not hidden due to Japanese behavioral norms of privacy, but were alleged to be part of a need to protect and continue an organization (ZSS) that allowed Shimano to continue harming people rather than fulfill its Bodhisattva vow to work to free all beings from suffering.”
Ariake: “I started my practice in 1978, and met my Zen teacher [Eido Shimano] in 1979. (…) In 1983, I became a resident at the monastery [Dai Bosatsu Zendo] and, in 1984, I was ordained and joined the staff. I feel the betrayal happened long before the first incident of sexual abuse because the “Zen institution” [Zen Studies Society] set Roshi [Eido Shimano] up as enlightened and infallible. (…) I was afraid to show any friendliness towards him at all and tried to make myself unattractive. That effort impaired our relationship. (…) Roshi [Eido Shimano] trashed students in front of others and I could not always see that the student had done anything wrong. Indeed, this humiliation seemed quite arbitrary. Roshi [Eido Shimano] was emotionally abusive to me, too, all those years. The more serious the student, the more abuse she might expect from the teacher, and it seemed there was some kind of Zen rule that students should never be given any praise. This abuse was thought to be Zen Roshi behavior. I feel this whole climate is what made it easy for my teacher [Eido Shimano] to eventually abuse me sexually. The first incident happened when I had been a student for 9 years. I had just finished a 1,000-day monastery commitment and voluntary celibacy vow. It was summer (…) By the time evening fell, I was quite shamefully intoxicated. In a quiet moment I was inspired by a drunken insight. Like a little child I wanted to present it to Roshi [Eido Shimano]. I hurried back to the main building and saw Roshi [Eido Shimano] looking out the window, but when I entered the building the lights were off. I saw him standing on the landing just outside his quarters. Excited by my insight, I bravely went straight up the stairs. On the small landing I found myself standing very close to him. I felt intimidated by this close proximity and spontaneously placed the flat of my hand on the front of his shoulder. Perhaps this was intended to bridge the gap between this giant and myself. He [Eido Shimano] drew me closer and kissed me. Things went from there. The next day I thought, “Maybe this is okay. It might broaden our relationship.” We had never had good communication, and there was this Zen thing about not having to communicate verbally; I had never talked to Roshi [Eido Shimano] about what was going on in my practice. Intermittently for the next three years we had a sexualized teacher/student relationship, although he was married. It took me a long time to see that something was wrong, but in hindsight I would say from the time things were sexualized I no longer had a teacher. It really hit me that something was very wrong when one day Roshi [Eido Shimano] suddenly turned on me for no reason. (…) During one of those teaching meetings, Roshi [Eido Shimano] misunderstood a statement I made-and went ballistic. In a rage he turned on me, shouting in his huge Zen voice. I was stunned. In that moment it all came together for me that something was terribly wrong. For a person to speak this way to someone they were having sex with no longer seemed like something Zen, but just very sick behavior. I went to my room where I cried for 3 days, unable to stop or leave the room. I realized that everything was destroyed. The unthinkable had happened. The relationship with my teacher [Eido Shimano] and the zendo [Dai Bosatsu Zendo] was over. I spent the next 3 years trying to reconcile with Roshi [Eido Shimano]. All I wanted was to be back in the monastery. The meaning and purpose of my life, my vocation, was to be a nun, a monastic. I couldn’t do that now without being reconciled. In the end I just disappeared very quietly from the sangha, (…) My faith was smashed. (…) My teacher [Eido Shimano] used that power—not just the power of position, but spiritual power–to manipulate and in other ways harm people. (…) Hours of emotional suffering have been part of every day in these 10 years. For the first 3 years I cried. (…) Roshi [Eido Shimano] was the primary relationship of everybody there. No one thought of dissent. Attempts at change have been futile. Roshi [Eido Shimano] was even investigated by the sex crimes division of the office of District Attorney [New York City], but nothing could be done because, in our state, if there is no “forcible rape” there is no criminal offense. (…) This year I’ve stopped crying and being angry quite so much, instead I’m now going into a depression. This trauma has taken all meaning out of my life, and it has affected every relationship I have, including those with my own children. I feel cut off from others and from my own heart. I haven’t told anyone close to me about this. I gained 90 pounds in a very short period. I think it helps me to avoid having a sexual relationship, which I’ve never had again. It feels as if I’ve got no life. (…) I don’t see this as something that happened in the past, it’s still happening. The damage to my life is extensive, but worst of all has been the destruction of my religious vocation and the corrosion of a once strong practice.”
Adam Ko Shin Tebbe: “The Kwan Um School of Zen has offered an official statement on the matter of Eido Shimano booking a rental at their Diamond Hill Zen monastery in 2013. We are happy to announce that they have decided to decline renting out the space to Shimano and his followers. (…) One must really pause to question the wisdom of any Zen institution that would offer Eido Shimano a place to teach and lead sesshin, knowing about his long and well-documented history of sexual and ethical misconduct that began when he first came to the United States in 1960. From where I am sitting, for any Zen institution to offer Shimano a place of teaching authority on their grounds is unconscionable. (…) According to a letter from George Zournas to the Trustees of the Zen Studies Society dated 9/14/1982, one Dr. Tadao Ogura (then Senior Psychiatrist of the South Oaks Hospital) agreed, saying of Shimano: “Wherever he goes, he s[h]ould never again be given a position of primary authority.” That was the opinion of a highly respected psychiatrist dating as far back as 1982!”
Myoan Grace Schireson: “Acknowledging Our Collective Silence in Eido Shimano’s behavior. Many of us heard rumors about the sexual misconduct at Eido Shimano‘s monastery in New York for many years. What happened to those who had spoken to women who were seduced or molested by their teacher? What prevented the rest of us in Zen from directly addressing this breach of ethics? Why did we leave this to that particular community to solve? For all of those who have taken precepts this is deeply disturbing. Where was our right action in this case? I do not exempt myself from having stayed in the background. Without shame or blame, I want to examine how Buddhist vows and ethical conduct, cherishing the Sangha treasure, honoring the teacher’s autonomy, and disliking or avoiding conflict may intersect in ways that result in silencing honest and open inquiry. There are many possible solutions to watching our community, but I believe we will need to self-reflect on our tendencies, and acknowledge our shortfalls before we can come up with realistic preventions for abuse of the Sangha treasure.”
Genjo Osho Marinello: “Recently I’ve read with much interest an email exchange between my Dharma sister, Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi and Jeff Shore, professor of Hanazono University in Kyoto, a Japanese Rinzai lineage affiliated university, where he has taught since 1987. For anyone associated with Eido Shimano Roshi or any of his five Dharma Heirs (I am the last of these) this will be a must read. (See: http://www.shimanoarchive.com/PDFs/20121021_Chayat_Shore.pdf) The Shimano Archive reported some time ago that Eido Shimano was not listed as a Dharma Heir under Soen Nakagawa Roshi in an official Japanese Rinzai lineage chart. After exploring this matter for myself I concluded in 2010 that “Apparently, Soen Roshi… gave Dharma Transmission to Eido Roshi, but failed to record it properly in Japan. I believe he did this because he was so angry with Eido Roshi for not stopping his bad behavior.” (See: http://www.choboji.org/PMN104.pdf, Plum Mountain News, V17.4, page 7) (…) Where does that leave me and all Dharma Heirs linked to Eido Shimano? We are all not recognized by the hierarchy of the Japanese Rinzai lineage. (…) On this point my “Dharma Father” Eido Shimano, my “Dharma Sister” Shinge Roko Chayat and I have a lot of work to do. (…) Shinge claims that she “will not hide behind delusive chains,” that “the smoke and mirrors.. must be cleared away” and that “the reason we are in such a mess is that we believed in a manipulative sociopath who was anything but a true man without rank.” This being the case it seems to me the first step would be to repudiate her own erroneous actions of support for Eido Shimano. A start would be excluding him hence forth from stepping foot on ZSS properties, and refusing to pay him a penny more in compensation while he continues to teach in any venue. (…) What is of great consequence to me, and all those waiting for real recovery at the ZSS, is that the Shimanos continue to be supported and honored by Shinge and the ZSS board, while those taken advantage of, over decades of abuse of power, are essentially abandoned by the organization. In my opinion, victims NOT support of the Shimanos should be given highest priority. Shinge and the ZSS board have as yet failed to sufficiently publicly repudiate and distance themselves from Shimanos or admit their organizational culpability. They are still caught in their own hall of smoke and mirrors. For my part I will continue to press for support for victims and will never hide the fact that my “Dharma Father,” Eido Shimano has demonstrated repeatedly that he is a narcissist of the highest caliber, (…) in such denial that they have little or no idea of the harm they have done and continue to do by proving themselves incapable of real remorse or restitution.”
Abbess Myoan Grace Schireson: “Mahasangha is setting standards that ethical misbehavior will not be tolerated even from so-called gifted teachers. (…) As a Zen teacher, someone who is concerned about Zen’s credibility in the West, I want to personally request that the following matters be considered by the ZSS Board regarding Eido Shimano’s actual retirement. Besides implementing the suggestions in the letters of Abbess Chozen Bays and Abbess Egyoku Nakao (for a rigorous ethical policy and healing council for sangha) I have only added one request that did not appear in the FaithTrust report—that Rev. Shimano apologize for his letter to the NYT– since it happened after their report– and that his apology specifically refer to his Shimano’s breach of the Buddhist precepts. 1. Eido Shimano should not be teaching on the grounds or under the auspices of ZSS (as recommended by FaithTrust). This means he should not have a residence or office at DBZ or Shoboji in NYC. 2. Under the current retirement agreement with ZSS, despite the recommendations of Faith Trust, he may continue to offer teaching at sesshin and also teach his Dharma class (in Japanese). I agree with the Faith Trust recommendations and do not think any of this teaching should continue. 3. I agree with the Faith Trust recommendations and do not think that Eido Shimano should continue to see any students (even “old” students) under the auspices of ZSS as was previously decided by the Board of ZSS. 4. A public statement regarding these changes should be made, just as ZSS publicly stated previously that he would continue teachings at sesshin and continue seeing “old” students under the previous retirement agreement. The previous retirement agreement is publicly available, and I think that it should be corrected—publicly. 5. Since he negated his apology with his letter to the NYT which was published on various sites on the internet, including this AZTA list, he should apologize again publicly and include an apology for the letter he wrote to the NYT. I would like to see Shimano’s apology include an admission that he broke the Buddhist precepts.”
Christopher Hamacher: “Recent revelations about a number of Zen teachers in the West have been quite unsettling. The many student testimonials and other documents, particularly those in the Shimano Archive, have shown that certain highly-revered, “Buddhist masters” were in fact aggressive, hypocritical, autocratic and narcissistic people – even to the extent of being sexually abusive. And these personal characteristics were apparently freely observable by their students at all times without any obvious improvements. (…) The application of this tactic at the Zen Studies Society, for example, was actually pointed out by a student in 1993: “the argument that there is nothing to judge/no one to judge has been used to justify abusive behavior.” (…) Stuart Lachs argues that, due to the myth of dharma transmission, students’ advancement up the “Zen institutional ladder” is completely dependent on the teacher’s approval. Therefore, students ambitious to become teachers themselves may be tempted to not see him as he really is, in order to gain his favour. This of course becomes an especially important factor in groups where the teacher himself continually stresses how “authentic” his lineage is, how “legendary” his own dharma teacher was, etc. (…) The case of the ZSS particularly demonstrates that the teacher’s “forgivable failings” can evidently be stretched to include even grievous sexual misconduct. (…) The types of conduct seen at more conservative Zen centres (e.g. elitism, unaccountable leadership, physically exhausting rituals, discouragement of dissent) are in fact all typical warning signs for cultic groups – (…). If, on the contrary, perennially abusive teachers are just written off as unrepresentative or extreme, in my opinion Zen Buddhism will eventually fail as a real alternative to the traditional, faith-based religions in the West.”
Myoan Grace Schireson: “When a teacher is violating appropriate boundaries and exploiting students, there is a loyalist tendency to minimize, explain away, or even cover-up the misconduct in order to keep the community functioning and maintain the status quo. Sometimes what’s being protected and preserved is a level of activity, sometimes an idealized concept of the teacher and practice, sometimes a public face or reputation, sometimes the positions and benefits of senior members, sometimes real estate owned by the community, but the dynamic is the same. At the organizational level, those who support the teacher despite his/her harmful misconduct circle the wagons and are typically empowered or “promoted” in the hierarchy to keep the teacher and the community’s status as a Zen practice place. Meanwhile those who voice the problem, try to change the system, and ask the teacher to acknowledge his/her harm are driven away. Or they leave to avoid being pulled into the web of loyal apologists. The teacher’s supporters come to be labeled as authentic practitioners, true Dharma heirs and examples of Zen wisdom, while those seeking rehabilitation and remediation for the teacher and the community are labeled as troublemakers and enemies of the Dharma. This perverse split affects not only the community, but the quality of Zen teaching and the teachers themselves. The whole Zen tradition is dragged down by lies, cover-ups, and corruption, and the challenging, courageous, and talented students are driven out, isolated, and sometimes deprived of a teaching venue. (…) Shimano continued for more than 40 years, perhaps compelled by addiction, to risk causing this same harm, having sex with female students who might be especially vulnerable to emotional distress. Roko Shinge Roshi provides some socio-cultural context for his sexual predation, harking back to the 60’s and early 70’s when women’s new found sexual freedom was, in her words, expressed by “choosing who we wanted to have sex with and kind of subverting the paradigm” (…) Sadly, Eido Shimano apparently advised female students that sexual intimacy with him was good for their Zen practice. Whatever socio-cultural and psychological forces may have been influencing his female victims, they do not mitigate the hard reality of what took place in Shimano’s community and the need to keep his misconduct, responsibility as teacher, and the harm caused at the center of our discussions. Responsible teaching and protection of students is an essential obligation for any teacher in a position of power and a necessary requirement in the Zen teacher’s job description. Unequal power in any helping profession requires restraint in satisfying one’s own appetites – sexual and otherwise – in favor of protecting students’ well-being and not confusing the purpose of training or healing. It is deemed so essential to those empowered to guide others that a legal prohibition between consenting adults has been mandated—sex is illegal– between doctors and patients, therapists and clients, and in some states between ministers and congregation members. (…) Sadly, as Genjo Marinello points out, the Faith Trust recommendations were not followed by the ZSS Board. We also learn from Genjo Marinello’s allegations that the ZSS Board was informed that Eido Shimano had forced himself on some of his students in non-consensual sex. (I also have personally heard women describe non-consensual sexual encounters with Eido Shimano.) Addressing this difficult matter in her Sweeping Zen interview, Roko Shinge Roshi seems to be aiming for a balanced view, remarking that if such events occurred, “all we can say is how much we deplore it and how much it pains us.” By withholding judgment as to the truth of the non-consensual sex (“if” such events occurred), she seems to be trying to establish a calm, neutral ground – not siding with either Eido Shimano or acknowledging the truth of his accusers’ allegations. (…) That said, beyond deploring alleged non-consensual sex, going further to express a willingness to investigate and even a willingness to prosecute if compelling evidence is found would be a brave additional step that may be necessary for healing the community. A sincere promise of investigation, possible prosecution, and remuneration to victims would encourage women to come forward and tell their stories so that justice could be served and the community could truly begin to heal. Whatever the legal consequences, knowing that Eido Shimano had perpetrated rape or date rape is an essential part of this conversation and the potential healing of the ZSS community. “Deploring” is certainly an expression of compassion, but I wonder how far it will go toward actually healing these concerns and allegations and repairing the community. Encouraging women to come forward requires trust and honesty; these basic conditions need to be more clearly established for ZSS women to testify. (…) Investigating allegations, supporting those abused and physically forced to have sex without consent, and seeing that justice is served begins to offer the appropriate response to move beyond the misconduct and the mistrust. Sangha leaders should consider actions to create a trusting environment. Expressions of disapproval of non-consensual sex are weak tea. We all deplore rape, but what will we do about such allegations in a Zen community? Genjo Marinello suggests that Eido Shimano’s ($90,000/year) retirement money is inappropriate under such circumstances. It seems he is being rewarded for harmful behavior, and that the victims of his harm should receive compensation instead. Until this level of honest investigation and appropriate action are undertaken, a cloud of mistrust will shadow the ZSS community. No matter how hard the ZSS Board works to rewrite the bylaws or restructure the community, the integrity of the community cannot be restored until the truth is heard and an appropriate response is offered. Speaking and facing the truth, meeting reality, is the backbone of the Zen tradition. In order for Zen to become authentic in the West, it needs to root in honesty and accountability. All of us should care enough about Zen to look closely at what is being taught, to take responsibility for creating structures to apply honesty in our communities, and to develop processes for early remediation and termination for the teachers’ transgressions that cannot be remediated. To honor the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, we must each hold those three treasures dear and not become passive observers. (…) Zen practice requires guts. Let us keeping working to make it real here in the West. Please investigate thoroughly and then voice your findings on this matter. We can still make a difference in the outcome.”
Myoan Grace Schireson: “We hear of Eido Shimano, formerly Abbot of Zen Studies Society, being described as “living in the realm of the Absolute.” The follow on foolish talk concludes that he cannot cause harm to others due to this so-called attainment. Teaching this mistaken, blatantly self-serving and dangerous idea reveals a teaching which has no stable understanding of what it means to be interconnected, to have no separate self. (…) However, once we understand that someone is preaching false Dharma, it is our responsibility to not allow them to continue this harmful charade. This is our gift to them. We need to walk away, to vote with our feet, and if necessary, we are free to pursue legal options to stop their harm. We need to take our wallets with us and not support any further perversion of Zen understanding Zen which can only result in greater harm to individuals and to Dharma.”
Kokan Genjo Marinello Osho: “Open Letter to the Zen Studies Society (ZSS). Dear Board, The question is how can the ZSS board demonstrate plainly that any impasse has cleared, (…) it seems clear from the little I’ve heard of the meeting that the staunch supporters of Eido Roshi cannot even concede that there was sexual misconduct (See: http://www.zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=73&t=3584&start=1341). Therefore, it is time to move on; please let the majority of those present be assured by your prompt actions that you heard them. If together you can manage to quickly, 1) declare that under no circumstances will any ZSS property be sold to either Eido Roshi or some consortium that supports him (See: http://www.zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=73&t=3584&start=1350), 2) exclude Eido Roshi from being on ZSS property indefinitely, 3) remind staunch supporters of Eido Roshi that they can train elsewhere, 4) offer an organizational apology to those the organization was not able to protect from serial abuses over decades, 5) adopt bylaws that allow for significant democratization of the board and the limiting of the role of abbot to conducting practice style and schedule, 6) announce that significant resources will be devoted to healing the deep wounds of those directly and indirectly harmed during Eido Roshi’s tenure as Abbot, then and only then will this board be able to established the credibility it needs to chart a healthy recovery and future. Take at least the first two steps immediately and I will rescind my resignation from the ZSS Board. (…) However, if you are unable to take at least these two steps, then I will be approaching Chobo-Ji’s board to end all affiliation with ZSS, at least until this impasse has cleared.”
Kokan Genjo Marinello Osho: “ Given our recent success encouraging Eido Roshi to be fully retired and not do any more teaching on or off campus, I feel we have rounded a big corner for the Zen Studies Society (ZSS). Therefore, I can withdraw from this board without feeling I am abandoning this organization or my commitment to True Dharma. In addition, it is clear from our last Board Meeting that my position is no longer in harmony with the majority of this board. I feel that in order for ZSS to deeply heal and grow in a way that will allow a genuine opportunity for former students to return and the real possibility of cultivating new students, at least a moderate break from Eido Roshi’s presence on campus is necessary. I also believe that Eido Roshi should not have rooms or space devoted to him for his use on either property, and I’m frustrated that after six months of retirement neither of his rooms have been cleared. I think that this board is taking a huge fiduciary risk by allowing highly restricted but regular access on ZSS property to someone who has such a long documented history of ethical breaches. At this point, the slightest sexual transgression by Eido Roshi on our property would be disastrous for us. Given his recent documented lack of awareness of the severity of the damage he has done, as evident by his July 5th letter to us requesting that he be allowed to lead zazen and teach Dharma classes at New York Zendo (NYZ), I think it is a mistake to allow him regular, all be it highly restricted, access to our property. I fully understand and support the ideas of installing an electronic lock with camera that would only allow access for him at times that NYZ is not in use by our sangha, but really if these are the precautions that are deemed necessary, I think it is safer just not to let him on the property at all. Let me be clear that I have no interest in punishing Eido Roshi for past transgressions, and I support paying him and Aiho-san a decent retirement stipend for the rest of their lives; however, I am concerned by how difficult it has been to arrive at a mutually agreeable amount.”
Genjo Marinello Osho: “Dear Dharma Brothers and Sisters, I don’t know how to put it more plainly, but please be assured that Eido Shimano Roshi and his wife Aiho-san Shimano did resign from the Board of Directors of the Zen Studies Society on July 4th, 2010. Their resignations were formally accepted by the Board, and we meet regularly by conference call, and when we are able in person, without their presence or undue influence. In all previous cycles of complaints, Roshi and Aiho-san have remained on the Board and this did indeed create circumstances that hindered the proper processing of similar complaints. After this date the board has gone on to: Engage the FaithTrust Institute to help us process ethics complaints and consult with us on how to best achieve a positive future for our Society. We have instigated a complete rewrite of the ZSS bylaws that will be membership based, with a much more democratic structure, which we hope to have in place by late January, 2011. We are pursuing a “forensic” audit of the whole financial structure of the organization so that we can understand all our assets and liabilities from the ground up. After completing the first phase of our ethics investigation, we concluded that a sincere letter of apology was needed, (…). Eido Roshi writes his letter of apology that announces his retirement as Abbot at the close of this training season 12/8/10. Roshi’s retirement is officially accepted and acknowledged by the Board. (…) Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi will be installed as the new Abbot of the Zen Studies Society on January 2nd, 2011. At every turn we have tried to respond promptly and with an open heart to every correspondence we have directly received to the Board or Ethics Committee. (…) Eido Roshi’s have proven to be repeatedly dangerous to the very Followers of the Way he has otherwise given his life to. Very tragic for him, the Sangha and most of all those he has wounded.”
Eido Tai Shimano: “September 7, 2010. Dear Friends, I would like to acknowledge the pain and unnecessary suffering you went through in your hearts due to my faults. I have a profound feeling of remorse for my actions. This August marked my 50th anniversary in the United States. During this half-century I have received so much from people the world over. Over time, I took your kindness for granted and arrogance grew in my heart. As a result, my sensitivity to feel the pain of others decreased. Now, as I reflect on the past, I realize how many people’s feelings and trust in me were hurt by my words and deeds. Please accept my heartfelt apology. My mother was the person who encouraged me the most to follow Buddha’s path. Tomorrow is her memorial day, as she passed away on September 8, 1986. Hearing her voice, I have decided to observe my 50th anniversary in the United States by stepping down from my position as abbot of the Zen Studies Society on the last day of Rohatsu sesshin in 2010. Even though I carry sadness in my heart, as a Buddhist monk, my vow to practice will not end. In order to preserve the Dharma legacy, ensure the training of future teachers, and to purify my own karma, I must march on.”
Jundo Cohen: “I will briefly speak as a newer member of this organization, junior to many people here whom I respect whose opinions may differ. For the first time since joining this body, I am ashamed. This is not a normal case of a teacher who, perchance, had an affair with a student, or a drinking problem, or bought himself a BMW with Sangha funds, or other like personal or minor fault. Nor is it something that happened over the short term or recently. Instead, this is the story of a teacher who engaged in case upon case of serial sexual abuse of decades, all while his Sangha and students looked the other way and covered it up, all while many here knew yet chose to do nothing. I know that Mr. Shimano is too just a victim of greed and ignorance, the real culprits here. However, at the same time, a teacher of the Precepts who intentionally acts again and again, over decades, to harm the innocent, showing little if any remorse in case after case, repeating the harm over decades with no self-reflection … is a kind of monster in our midst. Shame on us for not decrying this in the strongest terms, allowing any kind of “honorable exit”. Thus the calls of “give them more time to work it out” are about 10 years too late. They have had years, and chance upon chance. To “give them more time” and allow a “graceful exit” for Mr. Shimano is not the right answer here. He must be condemned by all of us in the strongest and most unambiguous terms, we must deny him any respect (his years of service do not outweigh the damage done here), the members of this organization must denounce the years of cover up, we should publicly admit our own role in not doing enough. Moreover, we must now publicly turn our backs on Mr. Shimano. Furthermore, we must turn our backs on the ZSS … treat them as persona non grata … unless and until they exhibit real reforms. If it were a case in which such events had happened but once or twice, or nobody in the organization knew, or there had not been cover up after cover up for YEARS then my opinion would be different. However, this is our moral equivalent of the child abuse scandals plaguing the Catholic Church. If we allow Mr. Shimano to make a graceful exit, if we allow things to be papered over again … our own shame is compounded. Our students are watchings. Right now, opinion I am hearing among people observing is that the “teachers of the Precepts” look like a bunch of hypocrites trying to protect their own. Shame on all of us.”
Kobutsu Malone: “Lately Eido Shimano has been concentrating creating myths about himself in preparation for his death – re-writing history. He has for years now attempted to write his first Dharma Heir out of history by dismissing him as a Dharma error (JunPo Denis Kelly). (…) The maneuver of writing Junpo Denis Kelly Roshi out of history I suspect has been designed by Shimano Inc. to avoid any possibility of Junpo Kelly moving into control of Dai Bosatsu Zendo when Eido dies. This revolves around Shimano’s knowledge that Junpo would drastically change DBZ and the practice of Rinzai Zen there. Junpo also can not be trusted to buttress the deliberately crafted mythology which Shimano has constructed around himself, nor will he continue to support “Japonification” of American Students. I watched individual after individual fall out of favor and get “written out of history.” The most egregious such revision of the history of Dai Bosatsu Zendo was the recent public announcement, including a press release published in Buddhadharma a leading Buddhist magazine concerning Eido Shimano’s bestowal of “Dharma Transmission” on Denko John Mortensen. This event was announced as the ascension of his Third Dharma Heir. In reality, Junpo Kando Denis Kelly, who was his first publicly announced Dharma Heir was revised out of history, this due to a falling out over Eido Roshi’s lying to him about a sex scandal. So instead of having four officially sanctioned Dharma Heirs there are now three (…). I have never known a man with more enemies, more people he refuses to admit into his presence. I sometimes wonder how the Shimanos keep track of all their enemies. His recent penchant for working on his mythology has involved doing video inventories of his collection of scrolls, vestments, art; he has had a video made that depicts him as a Dharma hero, it amounts to a commercial for an ethnic control freak. I learned about this sort of practice when Soen Nakagawa Roshi died. Towards the end the man behaved as a lunatic. Once he was cremated and safely ensconced, out came the publication of the Soen Roku. The sayings and doings of master Soen. Now that the guy was finally dead, not pissing in the hallways, or climbing around on the eves of the roof, the mythology could be woven. I was quite surprised to find included in the Soen Roku a little story I had written about Eido Roshi and sent to him as a gift; except that Eido’s name in the story had been changed to Soen. Soen’s dead, he can’t do anything nutty any more now; we can re-create him as a Zen Saint, the teacher of our own hegemonistic leader. It just sort of feeds on itself, the tales grow in length, only a positive view is presented. (…) I never opened my mouth about the little story I wrote out of fear of upsetting or disrespecting Eido. I feel very different about it now. There have been times I have witnessed instances of racism, sexism and classist denigration of people by Eido Roshi and his wife that have been egregious form this perspective. Such experiences have led me to profound questioning of the institution of at least this Rinzai Zen school in its transplantation to America. Eido one day informed a group of us that, “… the greatest disaster of the twentieth century was the loss of World War II by the Japanese.” I have been sickened to hear derogatory remarks from him over Korean and Chinese people. But then again, I am perhaps overly sensitive to “racial” issues because of my involvement in anti-racism work. (…) Dakota remarked to Eido’s chosen Dharma heir how troubled she was over Eido Roshi’s apparent racism, classism and sexism based on things she had gleaned from me and a brief meeting with Eido and Aiho Shimano. She was rebuked by the future Dharma heir’s commenting, “Oh he’s not racist, he’s just Japanese.” A few more words later concerning ethics and morals and Denko declares: “There are no morals in Zen…” I nearly fell over, Dakota’s mouth dropped open and I quickly replied, “There is certainly no dogma in Zen but there are most assuredly morals and ethics. This is what the Great Vows and the Precepts are all about.” Less than two years later, this man was given Inka Shomyo by Eido Roshi. Indeed, there appear to be no morals in Shimano’s Zen. (…) From this perspective we seem to be being taught that in a completely isolated environment under the absolute control of a master of double speak, determined to recreate the manners and customs of mediaeval Japan that this can some how bring about awakening. (…) I kept to myself and remained a supporter of Eido Roshi by maintaining silence and distancing myself from the whole seamy business. To be blunt, my relationship with Eido was not at all concerned with who he was sleeping with or not sleeping with. I figured it was none of my business. As it did not impact much on my life at all. At that time I failed to properly understand the nature of the power over dynamics paradigm. It was ten years later through the experience of working in prisons for a decade and the education I received from a woman social activist, Dakota Rowland, that I was able to grasp the depth of the situation. (…) The scandal it seemed, took its own course, eventually reaching the board of directors of the Zen Studies Society. The board was always an odd conglomerate yet possessing one single criteria of unity, the unity of support for Eido Shimano under any, and all, circumstances. The single most important criteria for board membership always being almost personality cult devotion to the Shimanos. Whatever happened in the board meetings concerning this particular sex scandal was soon compounded by one of the board members announcing her own sexual affair with Eido Roshi. She was soon removed and written out of history. I never really knew of the outcome of the board’s deliberations over these issues. We did receive a letter toward the end of February 1993 announcing the resignation of Junpo-shi Denis Kelly, as Vice Abbot and Head Monk of Dai Bosatsu Zendo. No reason or explanation was given. (…) Some six month later I was anonymously sent a copy of another letter signed by eight distinguished American Zen teachers calling for Eido Roshi’s resignation. (…) a former member of the Zen Studies Society Board of Directors who had resigned following her taking part in deliberating Eido Roshi’s apparent transgression of sexual misconduct with another woman and admitted to the board that she herself had also been having a sexual affair with Eido Roshi. She was really aggressive and confrontational and demanded why I had not warned her about Eido Roshi. She castigated me for supporting him and being “one of his monks” and went on to accuse me of permitting my ex-wife to have an affair with Eido Roshi. This was done in public, in front of a group of people who were visibly stunned by her accusations. I was flabbergasted beyond belief, particularly by her insinuations about my ex-wife and the mother of my children. I roared out at the top of my lungs, in a church/Zendo no less, that she was completely out of her mind and that she should get away from me immediately. She at that point tried to attack me and was fortunately physically restrained by some of the students and led out of the building. I was mortified – I had completely blown my cool in front of at least fifty people an half a dozen distinguished Zen teachers. I have watched the Shimano’s treat people with money and in particular Japanese people with extraordinary attention giving them preference over poorer, Caucasian and Black students. I have watched his wife deliberately hassle Black people and be very rude to them for simply showing up on the center’s “open to the public” night. (…) Suffice it to say, that over two decades of association with these folks produced several major sex scandals, all sorts of unethical accusations and a number of major upsets within the Sangha. The school I trained in is fraught with issues that isolate it from the community. Corpocracy and patriarchy are two of the most glaring aspects. Insensitivity and complete unwillingness to respect American cultural mores have been a hallmark of Eido’s presentation of Buddhadharma. (…) The consequence of such thinking and acting is the development of functional mythologies and personality centered veneration so that we are always led to be reassured that the right thing was done or that nothing at all negative ever happened. This involves the creation of mythology, the revision of the historical record in such a way so as to always place the Shimano’s in the best possible light despite the harm and damage done to others directly and indirectly. (…) As Dr. Cornel Pewewardy, a Comanche and Kiowa, Professor at the University of Kansas states: “Inaction in the face of racism is racism. As culturally responsive educators, we must understand that “enslaved minds cannot teach liberation.” For every single case of sexual misconduct on Eido Roshi’s part, large numbers of Zen Studies Society Sangha members were hurt, misled, lied to and told to keep quiet or get lost. How many times? In my quarter century association with Eido Shimano I can recall four cases involving major sexual scandals which divided and alienated the Sangha. Not just one or two people leaving disgruntled, but vast numbers falling away in utter disgust. Those who thus disappeared were never again to be brought up or talked about, their contributions, practice and efforts to support the Society were forever to be forgotten. The positions of the banished and disillusioned people are quietly filled by new eager students, most of whom are totally unaware of the reason for their ascension and the status quo of the Shimano total control regime goes on as if nothing ever happened. (…) If Eido Roshi wants to have an affair, that’s fine with me, he can go out to a bar and pick up a woman any time he may so choose. I have no interest in his sexual affairs as long as they are off campus and do not involve him using his position of authority as a power-over manipulation technique. (…) However, In the position of Abbot of a Monastery he exercises absolute power over the lives of those in residence. (…) there is no discussion, his word is law. His role is absolute, above question and beyond reproach. If he makes melodramatic vows in public to refrain from conveniently undefined sexual misconduct and at 70 years old still resorts to inviting women students up to his monastery apartment with offers of alcohol and promises of special treatment what does this tell us? There are no safe guards in place in the Zen Studies Society regarding Eido Shimano’s behavior. He and his wife hand pick board members for one purpose only, the Shimano’s perceived ability to maintain control over them and their complete and utter “loyalty” and “respect” for Eido. His Dharma heirs are in no position to offer challenge, one simply threw up his hands and left in utter disgust, the other safely maintains her distance with the responsibility for her own center, the other gets slowly burned out, worked to death, receives bogus promises and jumps ship at the first opportunity. The latest heir declares “There are no morals in Zen.” And is chosen to be Vice Abbot. What Eido has dreamed of as the flowering of Rinzai Zen in the West will soon fade away.”
Public Petition: Compelling Reasons Why Eido Tai Shimano, the Abbot of The Zen Studies Society Should Step Down as its Spiritual Leader. Archives recently published on the Internet reveal the enormity and historical depth of Eido Shimano’s violations of the Buddhist precepts going back at least 40 years. With every passing day, former Sangha members, male and female, come forward to recount their stories. Eido Shimano has denied none of it. Judged by the standards of civil society, Buddhist law, clergy ethics, or any other standard applicable to the conduct of human affairs, Eido Shimano’s conduct has been a disgrace. It has been an affront not only to the monks and nuns of Dai Bosatsu Zendo, to the practitioners of New York Zendo Shobo-ji, to the Zen Studies Society Sangha, but to sincere Buddhist practitioners everywhere. The repeated refusal of successive Boards of Directors of the Zen Studies Society to apply minimal professional standards to their Abbot violates our sense of decency. Given the undisputed record, nothing justifies The Zen Studies Society’s Board of Directors delaying even one more day in acting decisively to remove Eido Shimano. The current Directors need to actively and resolutely take action to ensure The Zen Studies Society will have a legacy not forever mired by the improprieties of its Abbot and the successive failures of various Zen Studies Society Boards of Directors – their independent judgment nullified by inherent conflicts of interest and unduly influenced by loyalty – to act to stop abuses that they saw but sought to rationalize away and even cover up. Only by the Abbot’s immediate removal by Board of Directors’ action can The Zen Studies Society have any hope of establishing future credibility and beginning a process of healing and reconciliation. Eido Shimano is responsible for his actions and accountable for the irreparable damage he has inflicted. It is the Zen Studies Society’s Board of Directors that now must make clear to the World that it unequivocally condemns the Abbot’s actions. Allowing the Abbot a face-saving exit on his own terms is exactly what the Board should refuse to countenance. The future of Zen Studies Society, if it is to have a future at all, cannot be based on the sycophantic loyalty to the Abbot that has brought the organization to where it is today. (…) The documents allow you to make a chronology of monumental abuse of power and undue influence over almost half a century. Short of a public ceremony of repentance and reconciliation that will involve the Sangha, it is difficult to imagine how sangha who suffered can be assuaged. This important step cannot be done with a belated and short letter expressing regret. As Buddhists who take the precepts seriously we entreat you to join us in this petition for Eido Tai Shimano Roshi to withdraw immediately as Abbot and spiritual leader of The Zen Studies Society. (…) Dharma teachers and concerned members of the Maha Sangha call on Rev. Eido Tai Shimano to withdraw immediately from his position as Abbot and Spiritual Leader of The Zen Studies Society. We share the conviction that Rev. Shimano cannot and should not function as a spiritual teacher and Abbot for these compelling reasons: His conduct in any realm of civic society in unacceptable, and should not be condoned by the Directors of the Society and certainly not by a spiritual organization; He has failed to fulfill the mandate of benefactors to the Society, as well as the hopes and expectations of his teachers; By his deeds he has repeatedly divided the Sangha, causing great bitterness among many students; his record of sexual misconduct has brought Buddhist training into disrepute and alienated ordained monks and nuns; His exploitation of women has caused many women pain and anguish; He has repeatedly exploited the Sangha for his personal gratification, and therefore as an abbot responsible for the care and nurturing of the Sangha, he has failed; In his systematic refusal to consider the consequences of his conduct and attitudes, he is unfit to lead, much less be the spiritual leader of a Dharma organization like The Zen Studies Society; With the many accusations against him, he cannot be an Abbot who is the public embodiment and representative of the spiritual mission of a Dharma organization; By repeatedly violating the Buddhist Precepts, his monk’s vows, and the Ethics Guidelines of the Zen Studies Society over the past 40 years, he has shown himself unable to uphold the Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha; We find irrefutable the concern of Mrs. Dorris Carlson, the most generous benefactor to The Zen Studies Society, that “the spiritual stature of the Zen Studies Society has been compromised over the years because of Eido Roshi’s behavior;” We find it an affront that Rev. Eido Shimano, who has been the beneficiary of inordinate kindness, generosity, and patience in this country where he has chosen to live, has failed to behave ethically towards the Sangha; His silence and unwillingness to respond forthrightly to the many accusations against him is unworthy of a spiritual leader and Rinzai Zen Buddhist teacher; His lack of integrity does not justify or validate his continuing on as abbot, and therefore his spiritual standing is impaired. Therefore, in shared concern and solicitude, we, Buddhist teachers and Sangha, entreat The Directors of The Zen Studies Society to uphold the Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. With the decisiveness and clarity this situation merits, please bring about the immediate withdrawal of Rev. Eido Shimano from his duties as the spiritual representative and Abbot of The Zen Studies Society.”
Open Letter: “As Zen teachers, we would like to express our gratitude for Buddhadharma’s recent issue on abuse in Buddhist communities. We also appreciated Mr. Oppenheimer’s piece in The Atlantic for “The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side.” We are referring to the discussion and reports on the abuse of power and authority of Zen Teacher Eido Shimano and others. We believe exposing this problem is a positive step in the direction of preventing such abuses in the future. Many women and others in the Zen community have suffered as a result, and we regret and apologize for our collective failure to stop this harm. Thanks to Mr. Oppenheimer’s efforts, women have come forward, some even using their names; we think this kind of courage can only embolden other survivors of abuse to speak out. We have pledged to look and listen to our communities and to build more visible ethics codes, working toward consensus on national standards on behavior and oversight, and seeking outside consultation to educate and empower students to come forward if they have been abused. Unlike either our Asian counterparts or American Judeo-Christian clergy, the American Zen tradition does not yet have a central authorizing body capable of sanctioning and removing a harmful teacher. Even so, as Zen Buddhist community leaders we are committed to changing the culture of silence and the idealization of the teacher’s status that has been so detrimental to students. As Mr. Oppenheimer points out, scoundrels and sociopaths will always walk among us–sometimes as teachers and priests. While ethics and changes in the balance of power cannot completely halt these scoundrels, we are working steadily to make our communities more aware of these dangers as a way to prevent abuse. We view the revelations concerning Eido Shimano as a wake-up call to each of us to pay close attention to the safety of the members of our community, and to monitor our own behavior as well as that of others. Signed by:
1. Abbess Myoan Grace Schireson, Empty Nest Zendo
2. Rev. Genjo Joe Marinello, Choboji Zen Center
3. Abbess Tonen O’Connor, Milwaukee Zen Center
4. Rev. Hozan Alan Senauke, Berkeley Zen Center
5. Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Village Zendo
6. Karin Ryuku Kempe, Zen Center of Denver
7. Rev. Eshu Martin, Zenwest Buddhist Society
8. Bodhin Kjolhede, Rochester Zen Center
9. Barry Magid, The Ordinary Mind Zendo, NYC
10. Abbot Jay Rinsen Weik, Great Heartland Buddhist Temple of Toledo
11. Abbess Zenki Mary Mocine, Vallejo Zen Center
12. Rev. Jisho Warner, Stone Creek Zen Center
13. Diane Eshin Rizzetto, Bay Zen Center
14. Rev. Nomon Tim Burnett, Red Cedar Zen
15. Roshi Joan Halifax, Upaya Zen Center
16. Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate
17. Rev. Daishin McCabe, Zen Fields, Ames Iowa
18. Rev. Jundo Cohen, Trealeaf Sangha, Japan
19. Kristen Larson, NO Sangha, Diamond Sangha Lineage, Port Angeles, WA
20. Leonard Marcel, Seven Thunders Sangha
21. Daniel Terragno, Rocks & Clouds Zendo
22. Bonseong Jeff Kitzes, Guiding teacher, Empty Gate Zen Center, Berkeley, CA
23. Abbot Zoketsu Norman Fischer, former abbot SFZC, director Everyday Zen Foundation
24. Anita Feng, Blue Heron Zen Community
25. Ray Ruzan Cicetti, Empty Bowl Zendo
26. Rev. Joen Snyder O’Neal, Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center
27. Rev. Zenshin Greg Fain, San Francisco Zen Center
28. Rev. Eido Frances Carney, Olympia Zen Center
29. Rev. Melissa Myozen Blacker, Boundless Way Temple
30. Abbess Jan Chozen Bay, Great Vow Zen Monastery
31. Abbot Hogen Bays, Great Vow Zen Monastery
32. Rev. Anka Spencer, Puerto Compasivo
33. Abbot Les Kaye, Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center
34. Rev. Shinshu Roberts, Ocean Gate Zen Center
35. Rev. Daijaku Kinst, Ocean Gate Zen Center
36. Rev. Domyo Burk, Bright Way Zen
37. Abbess P. Dai-En Bennage, founder, Mt. Equity Zendo, Jiho-an
38. Abbess Zenkei Blanche Hartman, San Francisco Zen Center
39. Eiko Joshin Carolyn Atkinson, Everyday Dharma Zen Center
40. Rev. Shinchi Linda Galijan, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center
41. Rev. Mitra Bishop, Mountain Gate & Hidden Valley Zen Center
42. Glenn Noblin, Austin Zen Center
43. Rev. Dairyu Michael Wenger, Dragons Leap Zen Center
44. Rev. Kuzan Peter Schireson, Zen Center Fresno
45. Rev. Tenku Ruff, Golden Bell Zazenkai
46. Rev. Kenshin Catherine Cascade, Bird Haven Zendo
47. Rev. Peg Koan Syverson, Appamada, Austin, TX
48. Debra Seido Martin, Empty Field Zendo
49. Eihei Peter Levitt, Salt Spring Zen Circle, Canada
50. Abbot Eshin John Godfrey, Zen Centre of Vancouver, Canada
51. Kim Hoben Hansen, North Shore Zendo, Canada
52. Rev. Meiren Val Szymanski, Bamboo In The Wind
53. Sensei Janet Jiryu Abels, Still Mind Zendo New York City
54. Sensei Gregory Hosho Abels, Still Mind Zendo New York City
55. Marisa Seishin Cespedes, Still Mind Zendo New York City
56. Rev. Sosan Theresa Flynn, Clouds in Water Zen Center
57. Rev. Lee Lewis, Broken Wooden Ladle Zen Project
58. Rev. Myogen Kathryn Stark, Hospice Chaplain
59. Robert Rosenbaum, Lay teacher, Meadowmont Zen Qigong
60. Rev. Tomon Lisa Marr, Milwaukee Zen Center
61. Rev. Joan Hogetsu Hoeberichts, Heart Circle Sangha
62. Abbess Wendy Egyoku Nakao, Zen Center Los Angeles
63. Rev. Baika Pratt-Heaton, Mt. Diablo Zen Center
64. Rev. Cynthia Kear, Everywhere Zen
65. Rev. Yozen Peter Schneider, Beginner’s Mind Zen Center
66. Abbess Setsuan Gaelyn Godwin, Houston Zen Center
67. Abbess Josho Pat Phelan, Chapel Hill Zen Center
68. Rev. Hobu Beata Chapman, Open Zen Community
69. Diane Musho Hamilton Sensei, Two Arrows Zen, Salt Lake City, Utah
70. Michael Mugaku Zimmerman Sensei, Two Arrows Zen, Salt Lake City, Utah
71. Rev. Myo-o Marilyn Habermas-Scher, Dharma Dance Sangha, Hospital Chaplain
72. Rev. Hoka Chris Fortin, Sebastapol Lotus Sangha, Everyday Zen Foundation
73. Sensei Ann Pirruccello, Three Treasures Zen Community
74. Mushin Abby Terris, Sangha Jewel, Corvallis, Oregon
75. Rev. Ben Connelly, Minnesota Zen Meditation Center
76. Rev. Kakumyo Lowe Chard, Dharma Rain Zen Center
77. Rev. Steve Kanji Ruhl, Yale Buddhist Sangha
78. Sunyana Graef, Vermont Zen Center
79. Sensei Al Genkai Kaszniak, Upaya Zen Center of Tucson
80. Rev. Zuiko Redding, Cedar Rapids Zen Center, Iowa
81. Rev. Ekyo Susan Nelson, Minnesota Zen Meditation Center
82. Sekishun Karen DeCotis, Lay teacher, Bozeman Zen Group
83. Elizabeth Hamilton, Zen teacher, Zen Center San Diego
84. Michael Kieran, Diamond Sangha Honolulu
85. J. Lee Nelson, Lay teacher, Everyday Zen
86. Rev. Nicolee Jikyo McMahon, Three Treasures Zen Community
87. Anna Youree Christensen, Ordinary Mind Sangha NYC
88. Rev. Shodo Spring, Mountains and Waters
89. Tenney Nathanson Sensei, Desert Rain Zen
90. Rev. Philip Sengetsu Kolman, Sensei, Hermitage Heart
91. Laurie Senauke, Lay teacher, Berkeley Zen Center
92. MyoOn Susan Hagler, Hokyoji Zen Practice Community
93. Anthony Korahais, Flowing Zen (Zen and qigong)
94. Seiso Paul Cooper, Two Rivers Zen
95. Rev. Layla Smith Bockhorst, San Francisco Zen Center
96. Rev. Tova Green, San Francisco Zen Center
97. Jiun Hosen Ranger, Bodhi Manda Zen Center
98. Koshin Christine Palmer, Dharma Eye Zen Sangha
99. Rev. Konin Cardenas, San Francisco Zen Center and Berkeley Zen Center. ”
Christopher Hamacher: “In this paper I examine two of the most recent and egregious of such scandals in Western Zen: the well-publicised case of Eido T. Shimano in New York, USA, (…). Both of these Zen teachers have been accused of long-term, systematic abuse of their students, with allegations ranging from sexual predation to financial improprieties. I review the respective case histories, including the disconcerting facts that Shimano has only recently stepped down – after almost fifty years of documented misconduct – (…) In the final section, I then discuss how these teachers could have been allowed to continue teaching for so long, despite the flagrant abuse and even though, at least in Shimano’s group, scandal after scandal had erupted over the years. (…) The story of Eido Shimano is presumably unparalleled in modern Zen Buddhism, both in the extent of his abuse and his ability to nonetheless rise to prominence. Though he had evidently already begun victimising students shortly after arriving in the United States in 1961, and continued to do so throughout his fifty-year career, he was still able to become one of the most highly esteemed Buddhist teachers in North America; for example, he has officially met with both the Dalai Lama and Pope Benedict XVI. He finally stepped down with a generous pension from the Zen Studies Society,11 the non-profit organisation that runs the two temples at which he taught, at the end of 2010.(…) The evidence documenting Shimano’s many ethical breaches and the ensuing coverups was already examined in detail in an essay published in 2009. (…) First, Shimano resigned from his position on the board,16 and he then issued an unspecific “heartfelt apology” via email in which he announced that he would also be stepping down from his position as abbot. However, on 1 December 2010, a letter was released in which Shimano declared that he “did not resign because of these false allegations”. (…) On 2 July 2011, supposedly in response to requests for his return by sixty former students, Shimano then issued a public announcement that there would be “no exceptions” to his retirement from teaching.19 Yet only three days later, he requested permission from the ZSS board to hold meetings and teach in a classroom format. And as of today, he does in fact continue to teach at independent spiritual retreats organised by devoted students. He is apparently still allowed to visit the ZSS, though only under supervision. (…) The reports of Shimano and Zernickow’s teaching methods, as well as of their respective personalities, demonstrate some remarkable similarities. In the following section I have attempted to categorise these similarities into eight different types, though there is some overlap and the list is not necessarily exhaustive. The categories were chosen based solely on the common features I observed when comparing the two respective case histories and, as mentioned in the introduction, I have specifically omitted the obvious common element of sexual predation. a) Aggression upon being confronted (…) b) Extreme formalism (…) c) Blaming the student’s ego (…) d) Hypocrisy (…) e) Groupthink. In this category I include the teacher’s use of group dynamics for his own benefit, either by pitting various members against each other, or by promoting an “us and them” mentality towards other groups and the outside world in general. (…) The simple removal of critics from the group is only a temporary remedy, however, if such exmembers can still exert influence from the outside. It is presumably for this reason that both Shimano and Zernickow have also tried to prevent unwanted communication between current and ex-members. For example, when a ZSS board member once began practicing Zen at a different temple, Shimano unilaterally attempted to have her removed from the board, explicitly because she “was now sitting elsewhere.” (…) Again, this phenomenon was evident at both the ZSS and Mumon-Kai. For example, several former members of the ZSS who have voiced criticism of Shimano have since been personally insulted, sometimes viciously, by current members. (…) On another occasion, when a different board member hardened his stance against Shimano at a meeting at the ZSS monastery, his car was reportedly vandalised. (…) f) Information control. The aforementioned attempt to prevent communication with ex-members is also symptomatic of a general tendency, demonstrated by both Shimano and Zernickow, to control the inflow of all possible information to their students. This tactic has been described by Steven Hassan as one of the four basic components (the “BITE” model) of destructive mind control. (…) Even the very fact of his resignation has since been written out of history: in October 2010 – under the auspices of the ZSS “Ethics Committee” no less – the current president of the board reassured a survivor in writing that Shimano had “submitted his resignation effective 8 December 2010” and that the “Board is now in control of operations.”154 Yet all subsequent ZSS publications celebrate Shimano instead as “retired” – not resigned – and he is even described as having festively presided, as “Retired Founding Abbot” before over 120 guests, at his successor’s installation ceremony on 1 January 2011 – almost a month after his supposed resignation took effect. (…) g) Self-aggrandisement or “cult of personality” (…) For example, there was allegedly still a large portrait of Shimano hanging at a ZSS temple in November 2011, almost one year after his resignation, and Roko Sherry Chayat, his appointed replacement as abbot, has since stated that “I don’t pretend for a moment that I can offer the fathomless insight that Eido Roshi has as a teacher.” As of the date of the present writing, Chayat also continues to express her gratitude, on the ZSS website, for “Eido Roshi’s uncompromising and penetrating Dharma Eye, which reveals directly the luminous power of the unconditioned mind,” and the website also still refers to Shimano “roshi” and his “dharma transmission,” thus even now continuing to exploit the aforementioned assumption of his supreme attainment. (…) As suggested above, this exaggerated opinion of Shimano’s greatness was based heavily on his being a dharma heir of Soen Nakagawa. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, the circumstances of such dharma transmission – even assuming that the concept itself is more than simply another convenient myth – are in fact suspect. For example, far from considering Shimano as his “closest disciple and principal dharma heir,” Nakagawa was rumoured to have finally lost patience and in fact repudiated Shimano altogether following one of the larger scandals. In addition, around the same period, Shimano declared himself “independent” of any other Zen Buddhist organisations in the United States or Japan, arguably severing the very ties upon which his transmission would have been based. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, Shimano does not even appear on the lineage chart of the Rinzai Zen school from which his alleged transmission stemmed. (…) h) Autocratic institutional control. The final common characteristic of both Zernickow’s and Shimano’s described teaching styles is the undemocratic, total control of the respective organisation. This is also a well-known warning sign for trouble (…). Moreover, though Shimano has since resigned from the board, a long-time student and board member has described all the remaining members as being “handpicked” by Shimano and “not picked because [they] were the best and most mature people to help the Zen Studies Society.” And another student observed already in 1993 that “the Bylaws should be changed to make the Zen Studies Society more democratic. It is currently an autocratic organization where no one has any say in what happens.” (…) This structure of course eventually caused problems at the ZSS, both from a financial perspective as well as with regard to the organisational response to Shimano’s sexual abuse. For example, the board’s terse reply to one accusation against Shimano was simply, “We would like you to know that we affirm our confidence in Eido Roshi and his leadership of our sangha. If you have concern for the Dharma and Sangha harmony, we advise you to desist.” (…) And when an outside observer suggested – already in 1982 – forming an independent committee to investigate the charges against Shimano, the president of the board reportedly offered the amazing response “that it would be impossible to find three ‘neutral’ people in the Sangha and that therefore there would be no point in following through” on the idea. (…) I have thus shown that the characteristics attributed to Shimano and Zernickow include, in addition to sexual exploitation: inability to deal with criticism reasonably, favouring formality and extravagant accoutrements in their practice, blaming the student’s own ego to deflect accusations, hypocrisy, using group dynamics in their favour, controlling the flow of information to students, selfaggrandisement, and autocratic leadership of their organisations. These behaviours were apparently all freely observable at all times and without any obvious interruptions. The question thus arises as to how otherwise intelligent or reasonable Zen students could have accepted such flagrant misconduct by their teachers for so long – (…) I therefore suggest some potential causes for this phenomenon: a) Lack of morality. (…) b) Japanese authoritarianism (…) c) Impossible ideals (…) d) The Absolute vs. the Relative (…) e) The institution of dharma transmission (…) In the same vein, Lachs suggests that the power yielded by the “dharma-transmitted” teacher also evidently extends over his teaching colleagues as well. Indeed, at least in Shimano’s case, the Zen establishment was on the whole very reticent in speaking out against him, even in full knowledge of the extent of his misbehaviour. Robert Aitken was particularly hesitant to denounce Shimano, having waited until 1995 before demanding his resignation, even though he had been personally aware of Shimano’s preying on women – even psychiatric patients in hospital – since the early 1960’s. And other teachers continued to openly associate with Shimano over the years as well, either by collaborating with him at conferences or on panels, or attending celebratory events hosted by him. Furthermore, as already mentioned, Nonin Chowaney, a high-ranking member of the American Zen Teachers’ Association, was still vociferously defending Shimano in May 2010. (…) My own Zen teacher has also cautioned me against providing information to students about the Shimano scandal, since it is allegedly better to only communicate “good news.” All this evidence therefore supports Lachs’ suggestion that a certain “old-boys’ club” mentality persists among Zen teachers who wield the institutional power of dharma transmission, which serves to protect the reputation of “long-time friends” at the expense of preventing further harm to students. Indeed, if even one dharma-transmitted teacher does not live up to the promise of nighdivinity, then the entire institution presumably becomes open to questioning. f) Emphasis on enlightenment. (…) In the worst case, the cognitive dissonance between, on the one hand, the student’s gratitude for her own positive experience with her teacher, and on the other, his obvious defects, may even lead her to consider him as being both “enlightened” and a sexual abuser at the same time. (…) g) Cultic tendencies. This last troubling quote also hints at a final and, in my opinion, perhaps most significant reason why Shimano and Zernickow were able to continue teaching unhindered for so long. Such statements of continued student support, even today, suggest that over the long span of their teachers’ respective tenures, the ZSS and Mumon-Kai have regressed from what might have initially been legitimate Buddhist practice into dysfunctional, cult-like dependency. Indeed, the types of conduct discussed in this paper (e.g. elitism, peer pressure, unaccountable and narcissistic leadership, excessive mind-altering practices, discouragement of dissent, etc.) are in fact all serious warning signs for high-demand/cultic groups. (…) With regard to the latter, although Shimano no longer teaches there, their new spiritual leader Ms. Chayat was chosen by Shimano himself and has been one of his closest disciples for several decades, i.e. throughout many of the events described herein. In addition, as late as July 2010 she still did not agree with even asking Shimano to take a leave of absence, she continues to downplay her and the ZSS board’s role in enabling his abuse, and, as mentioned above, still publicly expresses her gratitude for Shimano’s uncompromising and penetrating Dharma Eye today.”

Evidence: Complicity with Human Rights Violations
International Buddhist Ethics Committee: “Case 40-2018: Japan & Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Notification on the Imperial-Way Buddhism (…) In this way, the International Buddhist Ethics Committee considers it is fundamental to impugn the ethical and spiritual condition of masters who, obsessed with nationalism, have committed crimes through supporting war, since they introduced a perverse and bizarre nihilism within the Spirituality (…). The International Buddhist Ethics Committee affirms that schools and lineages that consider such individuals as enlightened masters or living Buddhas will not only be committing complicity with crimes against humanity and peace, but will also be transmitting a False Buddhism that absolutely betrays the ethical principles and compassionate wisdom founded by Master Siddhartha Gautama. (…) The International Buddhist Ethics Committee teaches that True Buddhism is a Reconciliation Pathway that contributes to establishing a world of peace, justice, knowledge and ecology, so that any contribution or support to war constitutes a complete betrayal of the Buddhist Path. Indeed, taking refuge in the Buddha-Dharma-Sangha should never be replaced by loyalty to the Ego, the Ideology and the State. In order for Buddhism to follow the Way of Truth, maintaining itself as an authentic spiritual tradition, the lineages and schools must recognize the fact that a spiritual master who supports Nationalism over Peace will be violating the fundamental ethical principles of Buddhism, thus becoming a false and perverted master, a pseudo-enlightened master. Collaborating with war or with armies is something that intrinsically violates the Buddhist Law, because it associates the Spirituality of the Master Gautama with practices that produce the death of millions of people and that betray the compassionate wisdom of any True Awakening. (…) The International Buddhist Ethics Committee makes this repudiation against the Japanese Buddhist lineages in order to try that history is not repeated again, (…) Ergo, the International Buddhist Ethics Committee dictates that all spiritual communes (sanghas) that perform acts of direct support or acts of silence in the face of international crimes will be totally violating Buddhist Law.”
Brian Daizen Victoria: “In the meantime, (…) the question must be asked, will Zen adherents, at least in the West, seriously examine and learn from the past errors of their Japanese predecessors, or will they insist on continuing to defend (or ignore) the indefensible thereby ensuring that the unity of Zen and the sword (including a physical sword) can once again be called upon to undergird, if not justify, the next round of bloodletting? If this last question sounds fanciful, or even unthinkable in the Western Sangha, let me end by introducing the following comments made in October 2007 during the dedication of the “Vast Refuge Dharma Hall Chapel” at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. This chapel came about as a result of a request made in 2004 by a graduate of the Academy’s first Class of 1959, Wiley Burch. Burch, now a Buddhist priest affiliated with the Hollow Bones Order of the Rinzai Zen sect, requested that a multipurpose room in the lower level of the Cadet Chapel be transformed into a Buddhist chapel. At the chapel’s dedication, Burch said: I understood there was a possibility or a place for Buddhism in the military. I understand the culture very well, and I understand the diversity of it. From that place, rather than being hard and coming in against, I came in willing to accept all. That’s a Buddhist teaching, not to set yourself up against things so much as to just be, we say, like clouds and like water, just flow. . . . Without compassion, war is nothing but criminal activity. It is necessary sometimes to take life, but we never take it for granted. (…) Quoted on the ‘Buddhist Military Sangha’ website available at: http://buddhistmilitarysangha.blogspot.jp, posted on Thursday, 1 November 2007 (accessed on 11 December 2013). Note that many other allegedly Buddhist justifications for killing in wartime can be found on this website. Ironically, these justifications are similar if not identical to those given by Japanese Zen and other Buddhist leaders in wartime Japan.”
Mondo Zen – Hollow Bones: “Our Community. Vice Abbot Rev. Dai En Hi Fu George Burch. Hawaii – Wild Goose Zendo. Dai En was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk on December 7, 1996 at Dai Bosatsu Mountain Monastery, Catskills New York. Rev. Eido Tai Shimano was his ordination master and has been his teaching master for over 23 years. Dai En has served primarily as a Shukaryo or business manager for the Zen Buddhist community and has raised substantial funds with effortless work to further the understanding of Buddhism in America. In 1981 he and Rev. Shimano founded Friends of Zen, Inc, a continuously active 501I3 public supported charitable organization. The mission of Friends of Zen is to support the development of Sanghas (Buddhist churches) by adapting the Rinzai Zen tradition to 21st century Western (US) culture. Friends of Zen is currently operated by Rev. Jun Po Kan Do (Denis Kelly). Dai En helped Rev. Jun Po establish the Hollow Bones Sangha in 1989 and has been active as its head monk and meditation master. In October 2007 Dai En received Inka, linage transmission, from Jun Po as an 84th generation linage holder in the Hakuin line. Dai En helped establish the Buddhist Sangha at the United States Air Force Academy and also contributed to building the first Buddhist Dharma Hall in a Federal building, the cadet chapel. George Burch is also a successful Software Industry entrepreneur and businessman. He has successfully founded and developed to maturity several major software companies. Software he developed with his employees is used throughout the world in critical mission applications for global 5,000 companies and the US Government. He is a well-known mathematician in the field of Military Operations Research and is the winner of major awards in that field including the MORS prize granted for his contribution to information warfare during the Vietnam era. He also was given the Senatorial Medal of Freedom in 2003. He is a graduate of the first class of the United States Air Force Academy (B. Sci.1959). He completed graduate studies in Operations Research at Johns Hopkins University (Masters. Degree – 1968 ). Dai En spends his private time writing a novel and with his four children and five grandchildren.”
Erin Emery: “Air Force Academy dedicates Buddhist space in chapel. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, CO (USA) – With incense burning, a small crowd of shoeless people gathered Monday to dedicate a Buddhist Chapel in the iconic Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel. The Vast Refuge Dharma Hall Chapel, a 300-square-foot room where a growing number of cadet Buddhists meditate, is believed to be the first space in a federal facility dedicated to Buddhism. “Cadets are different. Cadets don’t fit into one mold, and that includes religion, and I think it is a great way to expand our minds and our hearts and to show that as cadets, we want to prepare ourselves in a holistic way,” said cadet Leah Pound, 22, a senior from Parsons, Kan. Among the academy’s 4,500 cadets, 26 consider themselves Buddhists. The academy had established a Sangha, a spiritual community, seven years ago. Three years ago, the Rev. Dai En Hannya Hi Fu Wiley Burch, a graduate of the academy’s first Class of 1959, asked that a multipurpose room in the lower level of the cadet chapel be transformed into a Buddhist Chapel. Despite criticism two years ago that the academy favored evangelical Christianity over other religions, Burch said the academy met his idea with open arms. “I understood there was a possibility or a place for Buddhism in the military,” said Burch. “I understand the culture very well, and I understand the diversity of it. From that place, rather than being hard and coming in against, I came in willing to accept all. That’s a Buddhist teaching, not to set yourself up against things so much as to just be, we say, like clouds and like water, just flow.” The $85,000 to construct the space, and an additional $10,000 a year for the next five years to operate the chapel, was provided by The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism and Friends of Zen. No tax dollars were used on construction. While many practicing Buddhism are pacifists, Burch said the Buddhist mind-set helps bring compassion to conflicts. “Without compassion, war is nothing but criminal activity,” Burch said. “It is necessary sometimes to take life, but we never take it for granted.” Cadet Melissa Hughes, 22, a senior from Jupiter, Fla., said cadets who practice Buddhism have spent hours talking about their beliefs and war. “We realize that war is certainly a thing that we don’t want to have to do, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary, and it requires compassion for your country, your family, the people that you are protecting. I think Buddhism definitely has a place there,” Hughes said. Noel Trew, 22, a senior from Fort Pierce, Fla., said he considers himself Christian, though he likes the Buddhist mind-set. “It brings the meditative aspects. It’s sit down and see what happens,” Trew said. “That’s kind of the core behind the practice. … The core part is sitting down and trying to make your mind be quiet for a little while.” At the academy, with its rigorous academic, military and athletic curriculum, being quiet can be challenging. “Every once in a while, we’ll be sitting there in the meditative state and you’ll hear … bugle calls going off in the background. Our sensei just tells us, take that up and use that as part of the meditation,” Trew said”
TOM ROEDER: “With incense and celebration Monday, the academy, once criticized as a place where only evangelical Christians got their way, opened the 300-square-foot Vast Refuge Dharma Hall. Officials say it’s the first place on any American military base dedicated solely to Buddhist meditation. The $85,000 room in the chapel’s basement was paid for through donations. Other gifts of $10,000 per year will pay for its operation. The chapel will serve the academy’s growing number of cadets who practice Buddhism, 26 at last count, up from 16 earlier this year. (…) The academy’s famous chapel now houses Protestant, Catholic and Jewish services in addition to the Buddhist gatherings. Dozens of other religious and nonreligious groups also meet at the academy through its Special Programs in Religious Education regimen. An academy chaplain, Maj. Trip Ziegler, said having the Buddhists represented teaches cadets an important lesson. “One of the reasons we wear the uniform is to ensure religious freedom,” he said. While many consider Buddhists to be pacifists, some sects have roots in Asian warrior traditions, including the Bushido culture of Japanese samurai. “Sometimes it is necessary to take life, but we never take life for granted,” explained the Rev. Dai En Wiley Burch, a 1959 graduate of the academy and a Buddhist cleric who is credited with organizing the campaign for the new chapel. Burch said that his form of Buddhism recognizes that some wars are necessary, but that it urges warriors to temper themselves with compassion for their fellow man. “Without compassion, war is nothing but a criminal act,” Burch said. (…) Burch said the faith’s transcendental nature expands it during meditation, when minds are clear.”
Travis Duncan: “A dharma hall opens in a most unlikely place: the United States Air Force Academy. The U.S. Air Force Academy’s Protestant Chapel, home of the Vast Refuge Dharma Hall Chapel. ON A MONDAY morning in late October 2007, six United States Air Force Academy cadets gathered in a small room below the iconic aluminum spires of the Academy’s Protestant Chapel to arrange incense, flowers, votive candles, and bowls of pure water for the coming ceremony. Soon, two dozen attendees to the dedication of the Vast Refuge Dharma Hall Chapel, the first space on an American military base dedicated solely to meditation, would remove their shoes to avoid scuffing the floor and enter humbly, speaking in hushed tones—the beauty of the room calling for a certain solemnity. The $85,000 hall, situated in the Air Force Academy Chapel’s basement, was built with donations from Friends of Zen, a nonprofit that supports the development of Rinzai Zen sanghas, and from the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism. (…) After attendees chanted the Heart Sutra to the beat of a drum, Reverend Dai En Wiley Burch of the Hollow Bones Rinzai Zen school dedicated the space with these words: “May this Buddhist sanctuary spread the dharma like a great Bodhi tree, sheltering the cadets and airmen of the United States Air Force from storms of ignorance and the suffering of war.” Burch, a graduate of the first class of the Air Force Academy in 1959, is largely responsible for garnering the grants to help renovate the 274-square-foot hall, where the twenty-six cadets who currently practice Buddhism will finally have a decent space for their practice. The improved dharma hall will be a bright spot for the Academy, which has taken its share of blows in the press. Scandals including lawsuits over religious discrimination, sexual assault, cheating, and drug abuse have sullied the Academy’s reputation in recent years. Most recently, questions have been raised about recruiting practices and the lack of diversity in the student body. It is a conservative institution in a conservative city. Members and friends of the USAFA sangha at the Dharma Hall Chapel’s dedication ceremony © Brienne Boortz. (…) Senior cadet Erin Woodside took Lloyd’s class two years ago, and it piqued her interest enough to give the weekly sangha meetings a try. Woodside, raised in a Protestant family, said that the internal aspects of Zen practice match beautifully with her Christian practice, and that the increased internal focus and quiet that sitting meditation provides have helped her through many of the rigors of life at the Academy. “When I have a big assignment or PT [physical training] test, I stress myself out and get sick, get tired—all of these cadet-like things,” she said. “Zen says to stop and breathe. There’s a peace outside of your life.” (…) Cultivating steady mindfulness, often the aim of all those hours of meditation, seems to have made its way into all of the cadets’ lives. Levy said the group didn’t do as much meditation under Kacho, but after their new sangha leader, Sarah Bender, took over in early 2006, the dynamic of the group began to change. “It took a couple of years to get to the point where we could really consider ourselves a sangha,” Levy said. “It’s not anything against Tenzin at all. She took us from nothing to where it was when she left, and Sarah has built on that. Now it’s a community.” Levy attributed the change to the new instructor’s zest for meditation, and said the cadets had begun to take on leadership roles like timing meditation periods, striking bells, and other duties. Bender, a learning disabilities specialist with a private practice for eighteen years, began her tenure as head of the cadet sangha in February 2006. She is a sensei “fully authorized to teach Zen and work with individual students,” and this September she received her transmission from Joan Sutherland, founder of The Open Source, a collaborative network of Zen communities centered in Santa Fe with participating sanghas in California, Colorado, and Hawaii. Doshin MJ Nelson at the ceremony. Bender wasted no time, beginning with basic meditation instruction and then moving on to studying the Buddhist precepts, “because the precepts are a facet of Buddhist practice in all of the Buddhist traditions that I’m aware of,” she said. “They’re guidelines that the Buddha and later followers developed for getting along with each other in the world.” Bender listed and discussed the lay precepts against killing, stealing, indulging in sexual misconduct, lying, or taking intoxicants. “You can imagine that the discussion about not killing was pretty lively,” she said. “The cadets were aware that it was very important for them to hold that question about ‘how do we embody not killing? How do we live with the intention not to kill when we’ve taken up the form of service that we’ve taken up?’ And you heard Dai En’s take on that yesterday.” Dai En Burch’s speech at the dedication ceremony pointed directly at the elephant in the room, the apparent conflict between Buddhist precepts and military service. “Without compassion, war is a criminal activity,” he said. “Sometimes it is necessary to take life, but we never take life for granted.” Burch has consistently emphasized that there is no conflict between a warrior’s duties and the Buddhist life; this is perhaps not surprising, given his association with the Academy and his training in Rinzai Zen—known for the severity of its training methods and close association with samurai standards of conduct. Bender plans to approach the dilemma from both sides. She’s already done koan work with the cadets using a book by Trevor Leggett called Samurai Zen: The Warrior Koans. “Interestingly enough, though the book is a collection of koans and is about koan study, it does discuss the context in which Zen koan use emerged in Japan, and in particular the kind of Zen inquiry that is part of the samurai training. I’ll also be going further into looking at the dark side of that allegiance,” Bender said. “It’s possible to take an emptiness perspective to an extreme in such a way as to deny the actual consequences of your actions…. There’s a book by Brian Victoria called Zen at War that really says we must look at what can happen when Buddhism is put in the service of nationalism.” The nature of modern warfare often separates the killer from the victim, a point that cadets like Pound have obviously been mulling over. “I’m going to be a behavioral scientist. I’m not a pilot. I’m not in the fight, really. But I’ll be one of the people who design cockpits for a plane that will eventually drop bombs and kill people,” she said. “I’m trying to make this machine so efficient that a man can push a button and drop a bomb. Killing becomes easy. So that’s very closely tied to what I do. It’s kind of hard for us today, because we don’t cut across someone’s stomach with our sword and kill them; we drop bombs on them from many miles away.” Other cadets, like senior Bradley Carroll, don’t seem to be having as much trouble. “I don’t believe there’s any conflict,” Carroll said. “I guess you can interpret the precepts many ways. I’ve chosen to interpret them in a way that allows me to continue to serve my country and do my duty.” Bender, for her part, said she would continue to provide the tools for inquiry and for developing an openness of mind and heart, skills that would allow the cadets she works with to meet their experiences and choices fully. Her approach rejects easy answers in favor of close inquiry, good advice for Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike. The new dharma hall is not just a bright spot for the Academy; it is a symbol of Buddhism’s growth in the United States, springing up in a place where it would hardly have been imagined only a few years before.”
Rev. Alan Senauke: “This week an NPR story announced the creation of a Vast Refuge Dharma Hall in the basement of the Cadet Chapel at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This is the first dedicated Buddhist chapel in the U.S. military. At the chapel’s dedication, the Reverend Dai En Wiley Burch of the Hollow Bones Rinzai Zen school said, “Without compassion, war is a criminal activity. Sometimes it is necessary to take life, but we never take life for granted.” The academy’s Buddhist program leader, Sarah Bender Sensei of the Springs Mountain Sangha, asked herself how Zen Buddhism fits with the military path. “People in the military come up — for real— against questions that most of us just consider abstractly,” Bender says. “The questions of Buddhism are the questions of life and death. So, where else would you want Buddhism than right there where those questions are most vivid?” My first response to this was positive. A Buddhist chapel is a good thing. Even more so at the Air Force Academy, where year after year there have been complaints of intolerance and religious discrimination. But several days ago, a friend and collaborator, a lawyer working with conscientious objectors within the military raised questions that gave me pause. (…) “Soldier, the Air Force has a Buddhist Chaplain and a Buddhist Chapel. How can you sit here and say to me that Buddhism is against participation in war in any form?” In an email response, I wrote very quickly: This question of Buddhist chapel and chaplain is a real conundrum. There are several thousand Buddhist personnel (actually more than 5000) in the military. They need day-to-day resources and ministry. But as you point out, the presence of these resources argues against the explicit position of Buddhist “nonviolence.” (…) Buddhist precepts, all versions of which begin with the vow or prohibition against taking life. (…) omit them is to undermine the moral basis of Buddhist teachings. But how individual chaplains will work with this, I don’t know. I would not really like to be in their shoes. (…) Here is my reading of several of these questions. Is it truly possible to keep the first precept, not taking life? I was asked whether I thought all military and police were “immoral.” What about the military of “Buddhist” nations like Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka? Were conscientious objectors using Buddhism as a pretext for escaping the military, or whether these were serious practitioners. And then, am I substituting my personal sense of morality for another, and is this itself transgressing the Buddha’s precepts? (…) I believe in nonviolence as a way of life and as a dedicated and disciplined way of resolving conflicts, whether between individuals or countries. I believe in what Dr. King called the “beloved community,” a place that is not free from inevitable conflicts, we one can turn away from weapons and violence as the means of resolving conflict. Nonviolence is not, for me, being nice. It has to be tough and flexible. It is a practice and it can be a strategy. At another time, we could talk at length about active nonviolence, which calls for rigorous training and an ability to counter violence simultaneously resisting it, receiving it, and not retaliating. It does not always work, but it is surprising how effective it can be. One could tick off numerous recent historical examples. For the sake of transparency, I should say that in the 70s I was part of a group that came to espouse violence as a necessary and inevitable means of social change. This never sat right in my body back then, but, like others, I thought my self into a dark corner in which violence was the answer. Delusion! And, it was more or less a disaster. I deeply regret this. (…) our wars today day wars are hardly the work of wise rulers (Neither were most wars in the past.). Whatever the issues may be, however just, the killing is fed by arms dealers and vast corporations who profit from the various technologies of killing. And by politicians driven by self-interest in raw form. And even by ourselves in a willingness to preserve privilege over groups and people elsewhere in the world. (…) I mentioned chaplains “in the position of counseling men and women within a context that is fundamentally not moral.” This word ‘context’ has meaning for me. Just in our own historical memory, I consider the following U.S.-sponsored wars fundamentally not moral: Vietnam, the invasions of Grenada and Panama, the first Gulf War, the invasion and occupation of Iraq. (…) our readiness to go to war seems only to create the basis for more violence, planting trauma and hatred ever more deeply. I mean, have these wars worked out for anyone’s benefit and real safety? (…)The conscientious objectors Deborah and I have worked with are enlisted men and women (one or two, I think, in the reserves) who are Buddhist practitioners of various kinds, who find their enlistment was a serious error, and feel unable to carry on as a member of the military. I think most of them did somehow think they could join the military and avoid the mission of killing. In other times, this was possible, or one could convince oneself so. Not now. And many of them were channeled into the military by financial need. These are moral people, usually troubled, too, at the thought of being in circumstances where their beliefs and conscience might create risk for fellow soldiers. In each case I have had extensive discussions and written exchanges with them. For my part I need to be convinced about their practice, understanding, and sincerity. If called for, I point them to nearby Buddhist centers, and strongly urge them to take part in sangha. Often I have later had to answer on their behalf to a hearing officer. • The fact that so-called Buddhist nations–Japan, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, etc.—have armies is problematic in several ways. First, in the case of Japan (in WWII), Burma, and Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist military has actually put forward a badly distorted and nationalistic interpretation of dharma to justify their brutality and ethnic domination. (…) Second, I have deep mistrust of any nation where “church” and state are aligned with each other. Could I call this an unholy alliance, one that inevitably corrupts the very religious principles it claims to uphold? If any of you can point me towards a historical setting —modern or ancient— where this has worked out, I would be interested. (…) I come to nonviolence because I am aware of the violence within me and find that its use has never worked out well for me or those affected by it. But in the face of a totalitarian regime, Burma for example, nonviolence has been crushed again and again. I believe it will triumph in time. But meanwhile, I have never counseled Burmese activists or ethnic groups simply to throw away their weapons. I do not judge them, nor would I or have I hesitated to offer them spiritual words. But the disproportionality of resources and guns in the hands of the Burmese military doesn’t make a good argument for armed insurrection. Nor do I pretend to know the “best policy” for our country in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Total withdrawal? What will come of that? More troops, what will come of that? Sometimes one has implacable enemies, who control their own people with fear. (One could argue that is how the U.S. government has tried to control its own people these last eight years.) How does one stand up against this implacable wish to do harm? So now we have a tangled mess.”
BUDDHIST TRIBUNAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS: “Case NO. 20/2016: United Nations (UN) & Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. ETHICAL JUDGEMENT. (…) the UN as “Responsible” for the serious crimes of GENOCIDE, CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, WAR CRIMES, CORRUPTION AND VIOLATION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS INTERNATIONAL LAW. (…), reason by which it is concluded that all these crimes sentenced constitute HIGH CRIMES AGAINST WORLD PEACE. (…) Indeed, the United Nations UN sanctions against Iraq for more than a decade deliberately caused more than five hundred thousand dead children and about two million Iraqis killed by malnutrition or inadequate health, since sanctions created, in a systematic and widespread way, a social context of famine and malnutrition, prohibiting the people of Iraq from entering essential elements such as food, medicine and water purification instruments. This violation of the human right to health is clearly illegal and criminal, as it intentionally and indiscriminately generated millions of civilian deaths while the country’s ruling elite remained rich and powerful. In this way, the UN used famine as a method of war, carrying out a siege or supply blockade in order to create living conditions to physically destroy the population. Undoubtedly, this perverse mechanism has been recognized and denounced as genocide by senior officials of the United Nations (UN), who accepted the guilt of the organization, being also a Crime against humanity for the systematic and widespread violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (…) Moreover, the UN is an authoritarian institution that grants total impunity to the five permanent members of its Security Council, protecting especially illegal wars carried out by the United States, as happened in the lamentable invasion to Iraq. After applying genocidal economic sanctions for 12 years, which practically devastated the civilian population of Iraq, the United Nations (UN) gave impunity to the United States to invade this poor and hungry country, being an accomplice or an author by omission of one of the saddest episodes in the history of the world. Indeed, with the false excuse of seeking weapons of mass destruction, in the immoral invasion of Iraq there was genuine State terrorism on the part of the United States, which committed international crimes such as illegally detaining and torturing thousands of prisoners, murdering hundreds of thousands civilians, destroying the essential infrastructure and cultural heritage of the country, to forcibly displace, create a new corrupt government structure and guaranteeing juridical impunity to war crimes carried out during the illegal invasion. Indeed, the invasion of Iraq was not properly a war, but a genocidal invasion legitimized by the UN, producing more than one million Iraqis dead. Under the pretext of an alleged quest for liberation and democratization of Iraq, it was actually found an agenda for destroying the State, by leading its development back to medieval times and appropriating its oil resources at the cost of millions of deaths. To this end, the United States even went as far as to present false evidence of weapons of mass destruction allegedly possessed by the Iraqi government to the United Nations (UN). Despite this level of impunity, falsity and criminality, no official international court has investigated or convicted the United States for such crimes, except for the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCT), a humanitarian institution that condemned the Bush administration for the crimes of torture, war crimes and crimes against peace during the invasion of Iraq. Certainly the policies implemented by the United States in Iraq, under the active complicity of the UN, constitute a criminal conspiracy that violated the Nuremberg principles by implementing warlike policies similar to those of Nazism, torturing illegally detained people, bombing civilians with chemical weapons, committing mass killings, developing death squads using GESTAPO techniques, and by surrounding cities by prohibiting the entry of food, water and medicine, all of which constitute war crimes with imperialist and hegemonic characteristics. This shows that the proceedings in Iraq have not been errors but systematic and widespread patterns carried out with the complicity of the United Nations (UN), whose Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has keep the UN as a discredited, inept and irrelevant organization, leaving a poor legacy on issues of peace, as shown by its silence before the violations of human rights. (…) The Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights denounces that the UN does not seek world peace but it is actually an institution that encourages militarism by promoting humanitarian interventions or wars under the illegal concept of responsibility to protect, which is nothing more than the right to attack that the superpowers grant themselves. This mechanism to legitimize the wars of aggression carried out by the United States and NATO without any judgment is undoubtedly the contemporary form of imperialism, as happened in Iraq and Libya where colonialist invasions were carried out perversely disguised as humanitarianism. Thus, the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights agrees with the priest Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann in the fact that the United Nations (UN) has created humanitarian genocides. True humanitarian aid is and will be any action that limits or counteracts war, and should never be associated with the justification of militarism, just like in the past empires carried out just wars and religions carried out holy wars. When the UN legitimizes military invasions of the powers it becomes a sort of neocolonial imperialism, being an instrument of domination and not an instrument of liberation and international Law. (…)At the same time, strong evidences deployed during the trial of the United Nations (UN) have shown that the genocide carried out in Iraq was intended to destroy this State by carrying out a systematic and widespread process over a period of twenty years of blockade, bombardment and invasion, preventing people from accessing food, drinking water, medicine, education, labor and justice as part of a deliberate strategy. The Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights considers that the attacks on the civilian population in Iraq constitute genocide, such as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was adopted by the UN itself in 1948, legally obligating States to prevent genocide and punish those responsible. Indeed, the actions taken by the United Nations (UN) in Iraq constitute the international crime of genocide because there was intention to destroy in whole or in part the Iraqi national and civilian population by assassinating its members by bombing, causing serious physical or psychological harm to its members through torture, deliberately inflicting famine and disease and living conditions calculated to bring the total or partial physical destruction of Iraq. These genocidal actions committed by the UN not only violate its founding Charter but also the very spirit of civilization, because genocide is the denial of existence of a group of human beings. By means of the Genocide Convention of 1948, the United Nations (UN) has binding legal obligations to prevent and punish the crime of genocide, having failed in both duties on many occasions, since the Convention prohibits both the commission and complicity with genocide. (…)Moreover, the United Nations (UN) has also deprived the people of Iraq of their freedom by blocking their access to basic resources such as food, clean water, hygiene, medical care, work and education. This situation provides strong evidence to infer genocidal intention on the part of UN officials and their military forces. After the Gulf War, the United Nations (UN) economically sanctioned Iraq, killing nearly two million people, among whom more than five hundred thousand children died by starvation and lack of basic medical care. After this widespread and systematic siege, the UN endorsed bombing and invasion from United States, which completely destroyed the State of Iraq. The Genocide Convention of 1948 strongly prohibits acts that deliberately inflict living conditions calculated to partially or totally destroy a group, such as subjecting a group to a subsistence diet, reducing their essential medical services to the minimum, depriving indispensable resources for survival such as food or medical services. In this way, there is no doubt that when the precepts and norms of International law are applied, the United Nations (UN) is “Responsible” for having carried out acts that inflicted living conditions calculated to destroy in whole or in part the population of Iraq. In addition, Iraq’s civilian population has suffered many severe abuses of its human rights, including murder, forced displacement, and denial of justice by its invaders. (…)When sanctioning the civilian population in Iraq, by obstructing their access to food, health care, medical care and job opportunities, the UN has consistently pursued an economic and social policy aimed at the death or destruction of the people of Iraq. Officials of the United States and of the United Nations (UN) have been aware at all times of the magnitude that these genocidal acts would bring, by killing millions of people on a massive scale and especially by killing children, although they decided to continue to carry it out. This knowledge is the requirement for proving that it was not an error but that there was deliberately genocidal intent. (…) The same way as the conduct of a state organ is juridically attributable to the State, the illegal conduct of Member States is attributable to the United Nations (UN) as long as it does not seek to prevent their crimes or punish them, especially when dealing with serious human rights violations such as illegal detentions, torture, sexual abuse and extrajudicial killings. The UN is directly responsible for the conduct of its member States that have committed acts of genocide with its approval, and is also directly responsible if it failed to punish them.”
Ash Narain Roy – Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi.: “US’ Violation of Human Rights in Afghanistan. Monday 30 June 2008. Afghanistan has endured a quarter century of brutal wars during which human rights have been violated systematically by the occupying forces, the various regimes in power and the insurgent groups. The “war on terror” unleashed by the US promised a new dawn. But the Operation Enduring Freedom has brought neither the end of nightmare and miseries for the Afghans nor freedom of any consequence. The war on terror has led to widespread civilian deaths, often at the hands of unaccountable units led by the CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies. These foreign intelligence units “operate” with “impunity” in Afghanistan. (…) This is what the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Philip Alston, has said in his preliminary report on civilian deaths in Afghanistan a few days ago. Though he has not directly named the CIA, he has clearly alluded to the CIA and the US Special Operation Forces. The killing of 200 civilians by the US and international military forces in the first four months of 2008 is too high to escape global attention. Besides those targeted indiscriminately, Alston also refers to “a number of raids for which no state or military command appears ready to acknowledge responsibility”. The report cites several cases of extra-judicial killings. (…) But Alston failed to get any international military commander to even admit that their soldiers were involved. The Alston report provides a partial glimpse into the illegal actions of intelligence agencies, occupying forces and Afghan Police. A more detailed final report will be released later this year. The UN Security Council on June 19, 2008 described sexual violence during armed conflict as a “war crime” and a component of genocide and made a call to end it. Ironically, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chaired the Council meeting that approved the Resolution 1820 which said: “Rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.” But she was silent about the American troops and the intelligence units committing war crimes, including rape, in Iraq and Afghanistan with impunity. After seven years of American military operations, there is no peace, human rights, democracy and freedom. The Operation Enduring Freedom has turned out to be the biggest farce. (…) THAT the CIA is involved in covert operations in Afghanistan is an open secret. The Bagram Air Force Base near Kabul continues to work as a transit point for prisoners captured by the US and destined for Guantanamo Bay, secret CIA prisons (…). Tens of thousands of detainees are held in Afghanistan without charge and without access to lawyers. According to a report of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), 70-90 per cent of detainees have been rounded up without evidence. Secret trials are held based on allegations forwarded by the Pentagon “that would never have been admissible in a US court or even a military commission in Guantanamo”. No wonder the UN Human Rights Council compares such operations to “South American death squads”. A BBC report is equally damning; it says that “this is all happening under the eyes of American commanders who seem unwilling or unable to intervene”. Some years ago, Human Rights Watch, in a 59-page report, titled “Enduring Freedom: Abuses by US Forces in Afghanistan”, said that the Bush Administration was setting a “terrible precedent” to the rest of the world by its practices of arbitrary arrest, detention and mistreatment of detainees. It accused the US forces for using interrogation tactics that have been condemned by the State Department in the federal agency’s own Country Reports of human rights abuses. During a hearing of the Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi case, when a Supreme Court judge wondered aloud how the court could be sure the government interrogators were not abusing the detainees, the Deputy Solicitor-General, Paul Clement, said: “You just have to trust the executive.” (…) But there are several other officially undisclosed locations, including facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordon and on Diego Garcia. Each of these centres is maintained in either partial or total secrecy. Despite being bound by international treaties, the Bush Administration has refused ICRC access to these locations. The Human Rights First has failed to identify any official list of US detention facilities abroad employed in the course of the “war on terror”. Likewise, there is no public accounting of how many are detained or for what reason they are held. Are the detainees prisoners of war, civilians who took a direct part in hostilities, or are they suspected of criminal violations under civilian law? No one seems to have the answer. Now the US Defence and Justice Departments have come out with a weird reason, saying a key purpose of these indefinite detentions is to promote national security by developing detainees as sources of intelligence! On June 8, 2008, several human rights leaders have written a letter to the Congress urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to stop funding torture in the so-called “war on terror”. It says: While there continues to be considerable media and Congressional attention to torture in Guantanamo, there is comparatively little attention to the mounting evidence of human rights violations, including torture and target killings of civilians in Iraq since the 2004 Abu Ghraib revelations, and virtually none at all devoted to Afghanistan. (…) The human rights leaders further maintain that Building a 40-acre, $ 60 million detention facility in Afghanistan, allegedly to provide better conditions for detainees, ignores the question of why our troops are sinking into a deeper quagmire in Afghanistan in the first place. There is no way to safeguard human rights or due process under an unpopular military occupation. The human rights leaders have demanded that the Congress insist on an exit strategy from the Afghanistan war, determine whether the 1997 Leahy Amendment, which prohibits assistance to sectarian and repressive human rights violators, applies to US policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and oppose the proposed $ 60 million detention facility in Afghanistan, which implies a long-term Western military occupation in violation of basic human rights, judicial due process and national sovereignty. It is evident that the US doesn’t believe the laws of armed conflict apply to the war against terror. The US Congress and the people at large must raise questions or else the world community would think the Americans support spending their tax dollars on torture, secret prisons and death squads.”
Human Rights Watch: “The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor has announced that she is asking for permission to open an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. If the court’s judges agree, the investigation could include (…) crimes in Afghanistan by US military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) personnel as part of the US detention and interrogation program following the US-led invasion in 2001. Will Taliban leaders finally face justice for years of ordering suicide bombings? Could CIA officials one day be on trial at The Hague? And will the recent efforts to withdraw from the ICC change this? (…) This potential investigation sounds like big news, especially if alleged US crimes are examined. What kinds of crimes have taken place in Afghanistan since 2003? The prosecutor said she is seeking permission to investigate alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes by the Taliban and affiliated forces, Afghan National Security Forces, and US armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (…) For the US, there are credible allegations of US torture of people in US military and CIA custody to advance the US’ goals in Afghanistan. (…) The prosecutor can only start collecting evidence if a three-judge panel approves the investigation. (…) The International Criminal Court prosecutor’s request for an investigation in Afghanistan on November 20, 2017, could begin a long overdue path to justice for victims of grave international crimes. But surely the prosecutor thinks she can eventually build a case?
The prosecutor’s office is probably confident that they will have the goods if they are requesting an investigation. The prosecutor’s office has been gathering information on Afghanistan since at least 2007, so there’s 10 years of data on abuses by all these different actors, and it seems there’s finally enough information to merit further action. (…) Why is the ICC investigating the US? The ICC is a court of last resort, so it’s not going to act unless there’s been no justice at the national level for the conduct and the people it’s pursuing, be that in Afghanistan or the US. Considering the gravity of the crimes alleged against the US, especially for CIA abuses but for US military abuses as well, the US justice response has been anemic. While the US Justice Department did open an investigation into the CIA’s use of torture, the prosecutor found that there have been no national investigations or prosecutions in relation to CIA abuses in the US. It’s been harder to evaluate the US military’s response to allegations of torture. In 2015, the US reported to the United Nations Committee against Torture that its military had opened 70 investigations into detainee abuse that resulted in trials by courts-martial, but no time period is provided and this information is not publicly available. Indeed, in her application, the prosecutor said that she had been unable to get enough specific information to show that there were proceedings for detainee abuse by US forces in Afghanistan. If the ICC seeks arrest warrants for US personnel, who could be implicated? The prosecutor has flagged that “senior levels of the US government” approved plans or policies that led to abuses. This suggests that both those who authorized the torture and those who carried it out could be investigated. (…) US nationals who may have ordered or performed torture will escape justice? If the ICC issues arrest warrants against US citizens, it could generate domestic pressure on US authorities to hold people who have evaded justice accountable. And anyone identified may find it much harder to travel to 123 countries that are parties to the ICC, because they could face arrest upon arrival. (…) How important is it that the US is being investigated as well as the Afghans? It’s important because it shows that nobody’s outside of the law – if nationals from a powerful country commit the worst crimes, they could be brought to justice.”
Human Rights Watch: “The International Criminal Court prosecutor’s request for an investigation in Afghanistan on November 20, 2017, could begin a long overdue path to justice for victims of grave international crimes, Human Rights Watch said today, releasing a question and answer document about the situation. A three-member panel of ICC judges will now decide whether it can step in as a court of last resort to address the worst abuses committed in Afghanistan. The ongoing armed conflict in Afghanistan has resulted in numerous violations of the laws of war by the belligerents. Targeted attacks on civilians by the Taliban and other insurgents have caused thousands of civilian casualties. The Afghan government has not prosecuted torture, rape, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings by Afghan police and security forces. Foreign forces, notably the United States military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), have also committed serious abuses in Afghanistan. “The ICC prosecutor’s investigation request is a strong signal to those who thought they could escape justice for serious crimes in Afghanistan,” said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “Investigating abuses by all sides, including those implicating US personnel, reinforces the message that no one, no matter how powerful the government they serve, is beyond the law.” The prosecutor’s application seeks authorization to investigate alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Taliban and affiliated forces, Afghan National Security Forces, the US armed forces and the CIA. The ICC has jurisdiction over grave international crimes by anyone in Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, when Afghanistan joined the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty. In addition to alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan, a limited number of crimes are alleged to have been committed in clandestine CIA detention facilities in Poland, Romania, and Lithuania, all ICC members. The prosecutor said that these alleged crimes “are sufficiently linked to and fall within the parameters of the present situation.” (…) The prosecutor’s application also includes alleged crimes by US armed forces and the CIA. Since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, Human Rights Watch and others have documented torture and other serious abuses by the CIA and the US military, including severe beatings, days of extended sleep deprivation coupled with painful stress positions, confinement in small boxes, forced nudity, food and water deprivation, near suffocation using water, and exposure to severely cold temperatures that in at least one case resulted in death. The US has not thoroughly or credibly investigated these abuses, allowing those most responsible to escape justice. In her application, the prosecutor said that she “has been unable to obtain specific information or evidence with a sufficient degree of specificity and probative value that demonstrates that proceedings were undertaken with respect to cases of alleged detainee abuse by members of the US armed forces in Afghanistan.” In addition, the prosecutor finds that no national investigations or prosecutions have been conducted or are ongoing against those who appear most responsible for alleged crimes committed by the CIA. There are ongoing investigations in Poland, Romania, and Lithuania, and the prosecutor said that if an investigation is opened, she will continue to monitor the progress of relevant proceedings, whether they relate to the same persons and conduct as those of interest to the ICC, and whether such efforts are genuine. (…) In November 2016, the prosecutor said in a report that her office would make a final decision on whether to seek permission to open an investigation“imminently.”
The Guardian: “US army and CIA may be guilty of war crimes in Afghanistan, says ICC. Prosecutors to decide ‘imminently’ whether to investigate reports that detainees were tortured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. US armed forces and the CIA may have committed war crimes by torturing detainees in Afghanistan, the international criminal court’s chief prosecutor has said in a report, raising the possibility that American citizens could be indicted even though Washington has not joined the global court. “Members of US armed forces appear to have subjected at least 61 detained persons to torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity on the territory of Afghanistan between 1 May 2003 and 31 December 2014,” according to the report issued by prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s office on Monday. The report adds that CIA operatives may have subjected at least 27 detainees in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania to “torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity and/or rape” between December 2002 and March 2008. Most of the alleged abuse happened in 2003-04, the report says. (…) Even though the US is not a member of the court, Americans could still face prosecution at its headquarters in The Hague if they commit crimes within its jurisdiction in a country that is a member, such as Afghanistan, and are not prosecuted at home. (…) Prosecutors say investigations also are reportedly under way in Poland, Romaniaand Lithuania, which are all signatories to the Rome statute, into possible crimes at CIA detention facilities in those countries. (…) Referring to the alleged US war crimes, the report says they “were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals. Rather, they appear to have been committed as part of approved interrogation techniques in an attempt to extract ‘actionable intelligence’ from detainees”. The report adds: “The information available suggests that victims were deliberately subjected to physical and psychological violence, and that crimes were allegedly committed with particular cruelty and in a manner that debased the basic human dignity of the victims.” (…) After the 9/11 attacks, George W Bush’s administration allowed the use of waterboarding, which simulates drowning, and other enhanced interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists. President Barack Obama banned such practices after taking office in 2009. During the presidential campaign, the Republican nominee Donald Trump suggested that as president he would push to change laws that prohibit waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques, arguing that banning them put the US at a strategic disadvantage against Islamic State militants.”
SOMINI SENGUPTA and MARLISE SIMONS: “U.S. Forces May Have Committed War Crimes in Afghanistan, Prosecutor Says. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Monday that she had a “reasonable basis to believe” that American soldiers committed war crimes in Afghanistan, including torture. The international prosecutor has been considering whether to begin a full-fledged investigation into potential war crimes in Afghanistan for years. In Monday’s announcement, the prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, signaled that a full investigation was likely. Still, the prosecutor did not announce a final decision on an investigation, which would have to be approved by judges, and it is unlikely that the United States will cooperate. The United States is not a party to the court, which was established to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. (…) Ms. Bensouda, in an annual report published Monday, said there was a “reasonable basis” for her to open investigations into “war crimes of torture and related ill-treatment, by U.S. military forces deployed to Afghanistan and in secret detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency.” The focus, she said, would be mostly on any crimes that occurred in 2003 and 2004. (…) The prosecutor’s report said that American soldiers and C.I.A. officials had, while interrogating detainees in American-run facilities in Afghanistan, “resorted to techniques amounting to the commission of the war crimes of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape.” (…) The United States has assiduously sought to avoid scrutiny by the international court, arguing that its national authorities have investigated allegations of abuse. The prosecutor pointed out that American soldiers had not been prosecuted through the court-martial process. As for the C.I.A. officers, the Justice Department had carried out an inquiry into ill treatment of detainees. It decided not to prosecute anyone in connection to the death of a prisoner. The report said it was still seeking clarity from the American authorities on the inquiries into the conduct of C.I.A. officials before making a final decision on whether to open a full investigation.”
Human Rights Watch: “USA and Torture: A History of Hypocrisy. After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the US government authorized the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” on terrorism suspects in US custody. For years US officials, pointing to Department of Justice memorandums authorizing these techniques, denied that they constituted torture. But many clearly do: International bodies and US courts have repeatedly found that “waterboarding” and other forms of mock execution by asphyxiation constitute torture and are war crimes, Other authorized techniques, including stress positions, hooding during questioning, deprivation of light and auditory stimuli, and use of detainees’ individual phobias (such as fear of dogs) to induce stress, violate the protections afforded all persons in custody – whether combatants or civilians – under the laws of armed conflict and international human rights law, and can amount to torture or “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.” Accordingly, the United Nations Committee against Torture and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture have clearly stated that these techniques are torture. US President Barack Obama has acknowledged that the US used torture as part of the CIA’s post 9/11 interrogation program, and has said that waterboarding constitutes torture. However, many current and former US officials still argue that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” were not torture. The recent release of the summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program has heightened debate around this issue. The claims of those who argue these techniques did not constitute torture are contradicted by past US statements criticizing other countries for using those same techniques.”
Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights: “According to public evidences, USA Government has used several torture techniques in Afghanistan invasion, such as Waterboarding, Stress Positions, Forced Standing, Forced Nudity, Threats of Harm to person and family, Sleep deprivation, Use of loud music, Prolonged solitary confinement, and confinement in small space. However, these techniques were already criticized by United States of America in the past as methods of torture. Waterboarding were criticized by USA for being a torture method used in Sri Lanka and Tunisia. Stress positions and forced standing nudity were criticized by USA for being a torture method used in Jordan, Iran, Sri Lanka, North Korea and Egypt. Threats to detainees or family members were criticized by USA for being a torture method used in Turkey, Jordan and Irak. Sleep deprivation and use of loud music were criticized by USA for being a torture method used in Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Saudia Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan. Prolonged Solitary confinement and confinement in small space were criticized by USA for being a torture method used in Jordan, Irak, North Korea and China.”
Human Rights Watch: “The United States government has officially acknowledged (performed) waterboarding only three detainees: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times, Zubaydah 83 times, and al-Nashiri twice. In Human Rights Watch’s 2012 report Delivered into Enemy Hands, detainee Mohammed Shoroeiya described being repeatedly waterboarded during interrogations in Afghanistan. (…) According to a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, some detainees in US custody were subjected to prolonged stress standing position, naked, held with the arms extended and chained above the head … for periods from two or three days continuously, and for up to two or three months intermittently, during which period toilet access was sometimes denied resulting in allegations from four detainees that they had to defecate and urinate over themselves. Many of the detainees also described being subjected to extended periods of nudity, ranging from several weeks to several months. In Human Rights Watch’s Delivered into Enemy Hands, five former detainees in CIA custody described being chained to walls naked – sometimes while diapered – in pitch black, windowless cells, for weeks or months; restrained in painful stress positions for long periods; and forced into cramped spaces. As Human Rights Watch detailed in Getting Away with Torture, stress positions were among a number of interrogation and detention techniques authorized for use by the Bush administration. According to a 2009 CIA Inspector General’s report, during interrogations a CIA debriefer put an unloaded semi-automatic handgun to detainee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri’s head, and also turned a power drill on and off to frighten him while he was naked and hooded. Interrogators also made threats against Nashiri’s family, telling him, “We can get your mother in here,” and, “We can get your family in here.” In the ICRC report Nashiri also alleges that interrogators threatened to sodomize him and rape his family. The CIA report also states that interrogators told Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: “We’re going to kill your children.” In Human Rights Watch’s Delivered into Enemy Hands, detainees Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed al-Shoroeiya and Khalid al-Sharif stated that they were denied sleep by continuous, deafeningly loud Western music played from speakers right next to their ears. The ICRC report details various methods used against detainees for sleep deprivation, from the continuous blaring of loud music or hissing noises to long interrogations and stress positions. Abu Zubaydah, also known to have been held by the CIA, claimed that sometimes as he was falling asleep guards would splash water in his face to keep him awake. The ICRC report describes how detainees were kept in prolonged solitary confinement and incommunicado detention (with no access to family or attorneys) for periods ranging from 16 months to as long as four-and-a-half years. In Delivered into Enemy Hands, detainees describe being held in very small cells for prolonged periods of solitary confinement and incommunicado detention through much of their imprisonment. Getting Away with Torture describes the CIA’s secret detention program as entailing prolonged incommunicado detention.”
Human Rights Watch: “Afghanistan: Killing and Torture by U.S. Predate Abu Ghraib. After Two Years, U.S. Forces Still Not Prosecuted for Homicides. (…) U.S. forces in Afghanistan were involved in killings, torture and other abuses of prisoners even before the Iraq war started, Human Rights Watch said today. These crimes, known to senior officials in the military and Central Intelligence Agency, have not still been adequately investigated or prosecuted. Human Rights Watch said that at least six detainees in U.S. custody in Afghanistan have been killed since 2002, including one man held by the CIA. More than two years later, no U.S. personnel have been charged with homicide in any of these deaths, although U.S. Department of Defense documents show that five of the six deaths were clear homicides. “Prison abuse by U.S. personnel didn’t begin at Abu Ghraib,” said John Sifton, Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch. “As early as 2002, U.S. forces were responsible for torturing and killing prisoners in Afghanistan.” A military intelligence brigade involved in abuse at Bagram airbase outside Kabul, including two deaths, was later deployed from Afghanistan to Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. Killings and other cases of torture and abuse in Afghanistan uncovered by Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups include: An Afghan detainee known as “M. Sayari” was killed by four U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan in August 2002. According to Department of Defense documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, a captain and three sergeants “murdered Mr. [Sayari] after detaining him for following their movements in Afghanistan.” A U.S. Army spokesperson told journalists that the Special Forces Command had declined to prosecute any of the four, and that one of the four soldiers received an administrative reprimand. In November 2002, the CIA was reportedly involved in the torture and killing of a detainee in Afghanistan. A CIA case officer at the “Salt Pit,” a secret U.S.-run prison just north of Kabul, ordered guards to “strip naked an uncooperative young Afghan detainee, chain him to the concrete floor and leave him there overnight without blankets,” the Washington Post reported on March 3, after interviewing four government officials familiar with the case. According to the article, Afghan guards “paid by the CIA and working under CIA supervision” dragged the prisoner around the concrete floor of the facility, “bruising and scraping his skin,” before placing him in a cell for the night without clothes. An autopsy by a medic listed “hypothermia” as the cause of death, and the man was buried in an “unmarked, unacknowledged cemetery.” A U.S. government official interviewed told the Post: “He just disappeared from the face of the earth.” Two detainees were killed in December 2002 at Bagram airbase. These cases were previously reported by Human Rights Watch and were the subject of an exhaustive investigation by the New York Times. According to documents obtained by Human Rights Watch and a criminal investigation file obtained by the Times, two Afghan detainees named Dilawar and Habibullah died at Bagram airbase after being chained to the ceiling and severely beaten by U.S. guards and interrogators. Military intelligence officers knew of the pattern of abuses at the time, but failed to stop them. Although several soldiers were eventually charged with assault—in the wake of continued reporting on the case by Human Rights Watch—no personnel have been charged with homicide. In the months after the deaths, the U.S. military continued to tell journalists that the detainees had died of natural causes. A detainee arrested by U.S. soldiers in Wazi village in January 2003 also died in custody. After Human Rights Watch wrote a public letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in December, complaining about lack of accountability in investigating and prosecuting some for the cases above, the Army released a statement to journalists mentioning this case with the notation: Case remains ongoing. Jamal Naseer, a soldier in the U.S.-backed official Afghan Army, was killed in March 2003 after he and seven other soldiers were mistakenly arrested by U.S. forces and taken to a base in Gardez. Surviving detainees who were arrested with Naseer allege that U.S. forces punched them, kicked them, hung them upside down, and hit them with sticks or cables, among other abuses. Some said they were soaked in cold water and forced to lie in snow, and subjected to electrical shocks. Researchers with the Crimes of War project, a non-government organization, uncovered this death in September. At least two more killings occurred after the Iraq war began: Another Afghan detainee, Abdul Wali, died in custody in June 2003 at the Asadabad airbase in eastern Afghanistan. A CIA contractor has been indicted for assault in this case, but there are no homicide charges pending against him or anyone else, nor has the military released any information about the circumstances of Abdul Wali’s death. Sher Mohammad Khan died in U.S. custody on September 25, a day after he was arrested in a raid on his family’s home near Khost in which his brother, Mohammad Rais Khan, was shot and killed by U.S. forces. Military officials in Khost first told journalists in Kabul that he had died of a heart attack, and that the Khan family were “bad guys.” The Guardian later reported that a U.S. colonel based in Gardez said that Sher Mohammad Khan was “bitten by a snake and died in his cell,” and that the case was closed. Human Rights Watch said that previous investigations ordered by the Bush administration and Department of Defense had failed to uncover the scope of abuses committed by the military and CIA in Afghanistan or Iraq. Human Rights Watch renewed its calls for an independent commission on prisoner abuse and for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate any U.S. officials — regardless of rank or position — who participated in, ordered or had command responsibility for war crimes, torture or other prohibited ill-treatment against detainees in U.S. custody. “The U.S. military and CIA have shown that they cannot police themselves,” said Sifton. “Until an independent prosecutor is appointed, the real facts won’t come out.” Human Rights Watch called on the Department of Defense to release the results of the Army’s own investigation on treatment of detainees in Afghanistan. The study, concluded in July by Army General Charles H. Jacoby Jr., remains classified. At the same time, the CIA should release the report of its inspector general on detention procedures in Afghanistan and Iraq. “It’s time for the Bush administration to come clean about the scope of abuses in Afghanistan,” said Sifton.”
Washington Post: “Amnesty International accuses U.S., NATO of human rights abuses in Afghanistan. KABUL — Airstrikes and night raids by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan have left “thousands” of victims and their families without justice, the human rights group Amnesty International said Monday in a detailed and hard-hitting report. The report focused on 10 cases of attacks between 2009 and 2013 in which it said 140 Afghan civilians were killed. It said two of the attacks — a U.S. Special Forces raid on a house in Paktia province and related incidents of kidnappings, torture and killings in Wardak province — involved “compelling evidence of war crimes.” (…) Visiting officials from Amnesty said they had met with NATO military officials in Kabul in the past two days. The report criticized the U.S. military justice system, saying it had failed to hold American troops in Afghanistan accountable for abuses. It called on the future Afghan government to ensure that accountability for unlawful civilian killings is “guaranteed” in any future security agreements signed with the United States. In brief interviews Monday, several survivors and witnesses described some of the alleged coalition attacks investigated by Amnesty researchers. (…) “We heard explosions and people screaming, and we ran and found everyone dead.” A village leader from Laghman province, Abdul Mana, 30, described a 2012 incident from the report in which a NATO airstrike allegedly killed seven women at night. He said the women had stepped out to gather firewood and were killed by U.S. attack helicopters. “Everyone in the village recognized that they were American,” Abdul Mana said. He said village leaders had complained to local NATO officials and had met with President Hamid Karzai, who promised compensation to victims’ families. “Those who are behind this should be prosecuted and brought to justice,” Abdul Mana said. (…) Olof Blomqvist, an Amnesty official in Kabul, said the group’s most significant conclusion was “the shocking lack of justice and the impunity in cases where people are allegedly killed by U.S. and NATO forces.” The report said U.S. prosecutions for alleged military abuses here have been extremely rare.”
Amnesty International: “Afghanistan: No justice for thousands of civilians killed in US/NATO operations. The families of thousands of Afghan civilians killed by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan have been left without justice, Amnesty International said in a new report released today. Focusing primarily on air strikes and night raids carried out by US forces, including Special Operations Forces, Left in the Dark finds that even apparent war crimes have gone uninvestigated and unpunished. “Thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces since the invasion, but the victims and their families have little chance of redress. The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director. “None of the cases that we looked into – involving more than 140 civilian deaths – were prosecuted by the US military. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.” The report documents in detail the failures of accountability for US military operations in Afghanistan. (…) Amnesty International conducted detailed investigations of 10 incidents that took place between 2009 and 2013, in which civilians were killed by US military operations. At least 140 civilians were killed in the incidents that Amnesty International investigated, including pregnant women and at least 50 children. The organization interviewed some 125 witnesses, victims and family members, including many who had never given testimony to anyone before. Two of the case studies — involving a Special Operations Forces raid on a house in Paktia province in 2010, and enforced disappearances, torture, and killings in Nerkh and Maidan Shahr districts, Wardak province, in November 2012 to February 2013 — involve abundant and compelling evidence of war crimes. No one has been criminally prosecuted for either of the incidents. Qandi Agha, a former detainee held by US Special Forces in Nerkh in late 2012, spoke of the daily torture sessions he endured. “Four people beat me with cables. They tied my legs together and beat the soles of my feet with a wooden stick. They punched me in the face and kicked me. They hit my head on the floor.” He also said he was dunked in a barrel of water and given electrical shocks. Agha said that both US and Afghan forces participated in the torture sessions. He also said that four of the eight prisoners held with him were killed while he was in US custody, including one person, Sayed Muhammed, whose killing he witnessed. Formal criminal investigations into the killing of civilians in Afghanistan are extremely rare. (…) Under international humanitarian law (the laws of war), not every civilian death occurring in armed conflict implies a legal breach. Yet if civilians appear to have been killed deliberately or indiscriminately, or as part of a disproportionate attack, the incident requires a prompt, thorough and impartial inquiry. If that inquiry shows that the laws of war were violated, a prosecution should be initiated. Of the scores of witnesses, victims and family members Amnesty International spoke to when researching this report, only two people said that they had been interviewed by US military investigators. In many of the cases covered in the report, US military or NATO spokes people would announce that an investigation was being carried out, but would not release any further information about the progress of the investigation or its findings – leaving victims and family members in the dark. “We urge the US military to immediately investigate all the cases documented in our report, and all other cases where civilians have been killed. The victims and their family members deserve justice,” said Richard Bennett. The main obstacle to justice for Afghan victims and their family members is the deeply flawed US military justice system. Essentially a form of self-policing, the military justice system is “commander-driven” and, to a large extent, relies on soldiers’ own accounts of their actions in assessing the legality of a given operation. Lacking independent prosecutorial authorities, it expects soldiers and commanders to report potential human rights violations themselves. The conflict of interest is clear. In the rare instances when a case actually reaches the prosecution stage, there are serious concerns about the lack of independence of US military courts. It is extremely rare that Afghans themselves are invited to testify in these cases. “There is an urgent need to reform the US military justice system. The US should learn from other countries, many of which have made huge strides in recent years in civilianizing their military justice systems,” said Richard Bennett. The report also documents the lack of transparency on investigations and prosecutions of unlawful killings of civilians in Afghanistan. The US military withholds overall data on accountability for civilian casualties, and rarely provides information on individual cases. The US government’s freedom of information system, meant to ensure transparency when government bodies fail to provide information, does not function effectively when civilian casualties are at issue.”
Human Rights Watch: “US: Senate Report Slams CIA Torture, Lies. Release Full Study; Investigate Senior Officials. (Washington, DC) – The US Senate Intelligence Committee’s report summary on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) detention and interrogation program is a powerful denunciation of the agency’s extensive and systematic use of torture, Human Rights Watch said today. The 525-page partially redacted summary, released on December 9, 2014, is part of a 6,700-page classified report that the committee has still not indicated it plans to release. The summary documents numerous misrepresentations the CIA made about the program’s effectiveness and demonstrates US officials’ knowledge that it was illegal. It underscores the need for the US government to promptly release the full report, bolster oversight of the CIA, and investigate and appropriately prosecute the senior officials responsible for the torture program, Human Rights Watch said. “The Senate report should not be relegated to a shelf or hard drive but be the basis for criminal investigations on the use of torture by US officials,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The failure of the Obama administration to hold those responsible for torture to account risks leaving torture as a policy option when the next inevitable security threat strikes.” Nature and Scope of the Abuses. The summary concludes that CIA abuses were far more brutal, systematic, and widespread than previously reported; that many of the CIA’s interrogation techniques went beyond even those authorized by the Justice Department; and that the CIA began using the techniques long before they had obtained authorization for them. The summary describes many previously reported facts about the CIA torture program, including the agency’s use of painful stress positions, forced standing, extended sleep deprivation, extensive bright light and loud noise exposure, waterboarding, and throwing detainees against walls or closing them into coffins. It also contains new details showing that CIA torture was even more brutal than previously thought. The agency used painful restraints, imposed punitive “anal feeding” or “anal rehydration,” and forced detainees with broken leg bones to stand shackled against walls. The tactics took a heavy toll on the detainees, especially when combined with sleep deprivation and isolation and used over long periods. One detainee is described as “clearly a broken man,” another “on the verge of a complete breakdown.” The summary also provides evidence corroborating many details contained in prior Human Rights Watch reporting about CIA abuses. As just one example, Human Rights Watch reported in 2012 on the CIA’s use of waterboarding and similar water torture against detainees, directly contradicting the CIA’s claim that it had waterboarded only three detainees. As noted in footnote 623 of the summary, Human Rights Watch reported in 2012 that detainee Mohammed Shoroeiya (who also went by the names Abd al-Karim or al-Shara’iya) provided detailed and credible testimony that he was waterboarded repeatedly during interrogations at a CIA detention site in Afghanistan. The summary corroborates that Shoroeiya was rendered into CIA hands in 2003 and notes that CIA documents include a photograph of a wooden waterboarding device surrounded by water buckets at the detention site where Shoroeiya was held. The summary also notes that in an interview, the CIA was unable to explain the presence of the waterboarding device at that site. Human Rights Watch also reported on the case of Khalid al-Sharif (who also went by the name of “Abu Hazim”), who described being subjected to a form of water torture very similar to waterboarding while in CIA detention in Afghanistan. The summary describes, at pages 107-108, the testimony of a CIA linguist who in 2003 apparently reported this abuse to the CIA inspector general, who in turn referred it in 2004 to the US Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia as a possible criminal violation. It is unclear what, if anything, happened to the referral, but the inspector general’s report dismissed the linguist’s allegation by concluding there was no corroborating evidence. Sharif, like several other CIA detainees, has pointed out that no US official ever sought to interview him about the abuse he endured while in CIA custody. CIA Knew the Techniques Were Illegal. The report reveals new evidence that the CIA was well aware of the illegality of the techniques it was employing. On page 33, the summary notes that senior lawyers at the CIA internally circulated a draft letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft dated July 8, 2002, expressly acknowledging that the interrogation tactics that came to be known as “enhanced interrogation techniques” violated the US Torture Statute. The draft – it is unclear if it was ever sent – requested that the Justice Department provide the CIA with “a formal declination of prosecution, in advance.” That is, the CIA sought a promise from the Justice Department never to prosecute –or immunity. This document contradicts previous CIA officials’ claims that they did not know whether the tactics were legal and that they relied on guidance from Justice Department legal counsel in good faith. Instead, the document makes clear that senior CIA officials knew their tactics were illegal, and were trying to create some form of legal cover for those actions. When their efforts to obtain an advance declination failed, they sought and procured another form of cover through a series of legal memos – the so-called “Torture Memos” – drafted by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and the White House counsel beginning in August 2002, which purported to authorize the techniques. (…) Moreover, the memos were not an honest assessment of the law proscribing torture as well as cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment but a twisted effort to justify the unjustifiable. It has been a major failing of justice that the lawyers who provided legal cover for this torture program, becoming accomplices in its illegality, have not faced disciplinary or criminal consequences, Human Rights Watch said. “It’s now clear that senior CIA officials knew from the beginning that the techniques they were using were illegal,” Roth said. “It is the height of cynicism for the CIA to continue appealing to the ‘Torture Memos’ as if it relied in good faith on their legal rationalizations.” CIA Obstruction of Oversight. The summary shows the lengths to which the CIA went to cover up its crimes and obstruct the democratic process, including by making false claims to the Justice Department, White House, and Congress about the scope, nature, successes, and necessity of the program. (…) The Senate Intelligence Committee initiated the study in 2009 after reports that the CIA had destroyed 92 videotapes of CIA interrogations of terrorism suspects. Despite the committee’s oversight role, no committee members, other than the then-chairman and vice-chairman, were briefed about the program, which began in 2002, until September 2006, hours before President George W. Bush disclosed the program to the public. CIA efforts to evade oversight apparently did not end there. In March 2014, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein reported that the CIA had spied on committee staff computers as they were conducting their oversight investigation. The CIA inspector general referred the matter to the Justice Department for prosecution, but the Justice Department declined. CIA Director John Brennan, who had repeatedly dismissed allegations of CIA wrongdoing, apologized on July 31 after an internal CIA investigation found that the agency had monitored committee staff computers. “The CIA has tried to cover up its torture program by systematically obstructing oversight and sending false messages to the public,” Roth said. “Congress and the president should seize this opportunity to bolster oversight of the CIA and bring it under the rule of law.” The Need for Accountability. On his second full day in office in January 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order closing the CIA’s secret detention facilities and ending the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” – a euphemism for torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment. Although torture and other ill-treatment of people in custody violates US and international law, not a single US official responsible for creating or carrying out the program has been brought to justice. “It’s unconscionable that President Obama refuses to allow prosecution of a single person who authorized, implemented, or covered up the torture,” Roth said. Although the names of countries that cooperated with the US program were redacted in the summary, substantial evidence exists that the CIA sent prisoners to at least eight countries, including Afghanistan, Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Thailand, Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt. (…) In 2009, the Justice Department initiated an investigation, led by Special Prosecutor John Durham, which it portrayed as a serious criminal inquiry into abuses against detainees in CIA custody. However, the investigation looked into only abuses that went beyond the interrogation techniques that the Justice Department had authorized, even though President Obama has acknowledged that some of the authorized techniques constituted torture. Durham looked into 101 cases of CIA abuse, including the cases of two detainees who died in CIA custody. However, the Justice Department closed the investigation on August 2012 without bringing any criminal charges. In addition, it appears that the US never interviewed for the investigation many former CIA detainees who reportedly suffered some of the worst abuses in CIA custody. The US government has refused to answer questions as to whether any former CIA detainees were interviewed at all for the Durham investigation. The failure to conduct such interviews raises serious questions about US compliance with its obligations to conduct a full and fair inquiry under the Convention against Torture into potential violations, Human Rights Watch said. The Senate report summary should be the beginning, not the end, of the process to bring to justice those who committed torture in the name of the American people, Roth said. Real presidential leadership will be needed to ensure the next steps are taken.”
Human Rights Watch: “US: CIA Torture Revelations. Newly Released Documents Show Need for Accountability. (…). The recent release of documents related to the US Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program provide excruciating new details about CIA torture, Human Rights Watch said today. On June 16, 2016, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to provide greater accountability for CIA abuses before the end of his term in office. “The newly released documents underscore the brutality and illegality of the CIA program,” said Laura Pitter, senior national security counsel at Human Rights Watch. “President Obama’s failure to take concrete action to address these crimes will leave a stain on his legacy, undermine respect for the rule of law, and weaken US effectiveness in advocating against torture globally.” It was known that an Afghan detainee, Gul Rahman, died of hypothermia in his cell after the CIA tortured him, left him half naked on a concrete floor in freezing temperatures, and deprived him of food. But a newly released internal document about an investigation into Rahman’s death attempts to blame Rahman for what happened to him, underscoring the program’s depravity (…). Similarly, the CIA’s use of diapers in its program had been reported, but one new document unreservedly states that humiliating detainees was the “sole purpose” for their use. It goes on to state that: “When the prisoner soils a diaper, they are changed by the guards. Sometimes the guards run out of diapers and the prisoners are placed back in their cells in a handcrafted diaper secured by duct tape. If the guards don’t have any available diapers, the prisoners are rendered to their cell nude.” Some detainees were chained to two iron rings that came out of a wall, about one metre above the ground, in various different positions. One former detainee said he spent two weeks in Position 3, only being unchained for 30 minutes per day. The new documents build on the Senate Intelligence Committee executive summary released in 2014 and other reporting. The best way to clarify the illegality of the CIA’s use of torture would be to restart criminal investigations, Human Rights Watch said. While the reasons behind the closure of prior investigations remain unclear, Human Rights Watch’s December 2015 report, “No More Excuses: A Roadmap to Justice for CIA Torture,” provided extensive material and analysis challenging claims that it was not legally possible for the Justice Department to prosecute. Even if the Justice Department will not open new investigations, it should at a minimum explain in detail why prior investigations were closed, and work with other executive departments to provide redress and rehabilitation to victims. The US should also go much further in releasing information about the program than it has to date.”
Francis A. Boyle: “The Illegalities of the Bush Jr. War Against Afghanistan. Friday, September 13th, 2002. The “Blowhard Zone”. (…) let me review for you briefly some of the international law arguments that I have been making almost full time since September 13. They are set forth in the introduction in my new book, The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence. Terrorism v. War. First, right after September 11 President Bush called these attacks an act of terrorism, which they were under the United States domestic law definition at that time. However, there is no generally accepted definition of an act of terrorism under international law, for reasons I explain in my book. Soon thereafter however and apparently after consultations with Secretary of State Powell, he proceeded to call these an act of war, ratcheting up the rhetoric and the legal and constitutional issues at stake here. They were not an act of war as traditionally defined. An act of war is a military attack by one state against another state. There is so far no evidence produced that the state of Afghanistan, at the time, either attacked the United States or authorized or approved such an attack. Indeed, just recently FBI Director Mueller and the deputy director of the CIA publicly admitted that they have found no evidence in Afghanistan linked to the September 11 attacks. If you believe the government’s account of what happened, which I think is highly questionable, 15 of these 19 people alleged to have committed these attacks were from Saudi Arabia and yet we went to war against Afghanistan. It does not really add up in my opinion. But in any event this was not an act of war. Clearly these were acts of terrorism as defined by United States domestic law at the time, but not an act of war. Normally terrorism is dealt with as a matter of international and domestic law enforcement. Indeed there was a treaty directly on point at that time, the Montreal Sabotage Convention to which both the United States and Afghanistan were parties. It has an entire regime to deal with all issues in dispute here, including access to the International Court of Justice to resolve international disputes arising under the Treaty such as the extradition of Bin Laden. The Bush administration completely ignored this treaty, jettisoned it, set it aside, never even mentioned it. They paid no attention to this treaty or any of the other 12 international treaties dealing with acts of terrorism that could have been applied to handle this manner in a peaceful, lawful way. War of Aggression Against Afghanistan. Bush, Jr. instead went to the United National Security Council to get a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Afghanistan and Al Qaeda. He failed. You have to remember that. This war has never been authorized by the United Nations Security Council. If you read the two resolutions that he got, it is very clear that what Bush, Jr. tried to do was to get the exact same type of language that Bush, Sr. got from the U.N. Security Council in the late fall of 1990 to authorize a war against Iraq to produce its expulsion from Kuwait. It is very clear if you read these resolutions, Bush, Jr. tried to get the exact same language twice and they failed. Indeed the first Security Council resolution refused to call what happened on September 11 an “armed attack” – that is by one state against another state. Rather they called it “terrorist attacks.” But the critical point here is that this war has never been approved by the U.N. Security Council so technically it is illegal under international law. It constitutes an act and a war of aggression by the United States against Afghanistan. No Declaration of War. Now in addition Bush, Jr. then went to Congress to get authorization to go to war. It appears that Bush, Jr. tried to get a formal declaration of war along the lines of December 8, 1941 after the Day of Infamy like FDR got on Pearl Harbor. Bush then began to use the rhetoric of Pearl Harbor. If he had gotten this declaration of war Bush and his lawyers knew full well he would have been a Constitutional Dictator. And I refer you here to the book by my late friend Professor Miller of George Washington University Law School, Presidential Power that with a formal declaration of war the president becomes a Constitutional Dictator. He failed to get a declaration of war. Despite all the rhetoric we have heard by the Bush, Jr. administration Congress never declared war against Afghanistan or against anyone. There is technically no state of war today against anyone as a matter of constitutional law as formally declared. (…) Now what Bush, Jr. did get was a War Powers Resolution authorization. Very similar to what Bush, Sr. got. Again the game plan was the same here. Follow the path already pioneered by Bush, Sr. in his war against Iraq. (…) So Bush Jr. got a War Powers Resolution, which is not a declaration of war. Indeed, Senator Byrd, the Dean of the Senate, clearly said this is only a War Powers authorization and we will give authority to the president to use military force subject to the requirements of the War Powers Resolution, which means they must inform us (…). No War Against Iraq! For example, on Iraq. Right now they cannot use that War Powers Resolution to justify a war against Iraq. There is no evidence that Iraq was involved in the events on September 11. So they are fishing around for some other justification to go to war with Iraq. They have come up now with this doctrine of preemptive attack. Quite interesting that argument, doctrine was rejected by the Nuremberg Tribunal when the lawyers for the Nazi defendants made it at Nuremberg. They rejected any doctrine of preemptive attack. Nazi Self-Defense. Then what happened after failing to get any formal authorization from the Security Council, the U.S. Ambassador Negroponte – who has the blood of about 35000 people in Nicaragua on his hands when he was U.S. Ambassador down in Honduras – sent a letter to the Security Council asserting Article 51 of the U.N. Charter to justify the war against Afghanistan. And basically saying that we reserve the right to use force in self-defense against any state we say is somehow involved in the events of September 11. Well, the San Francisco Chronicle interviewed me on that and asked what is the precedent for this? I said that the precedent again goes back to the Nuremberg Judgment of 1946 when the lawyers for the Nazi defendants argued that we, the Nazi government had a right to go to war in self-defense as we saw it, and no one could tell us any differently. Of course that preposterous argument was rejected by Nuremberg. It is very distressing to see some of the highest level of officials of our country making legal arguments that were rejected by the Nuremberg Tribunal. (…) But basically there are two treaties on point here that are being violated at a minimum. First, the Third Geneva Convention of 1949. I will not go through all of the arguments here but it is clear that just about everyone down in Guantanamo (not counting the guys who were picked up in Bosnia and basically kidnapped) but all those apprehended over in Afghanistan and Pakistan would qualify as prisoners of war within the meaning of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, and therefore have all the rights of prisoners of war within the meaning of that convention. Right now however, as you know, all those rights are being denied. This is a serious war crime. And unfortunately President Bush, Jr. himself has incriminated himself under the Third Geneva Convention by signing the order setting up these military commissions. Not only has he incriminated himself under the Third Geneva Convention, but he has incriminated himself under the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996 or so, signed into law by President Clinton and making it a serious felony for any United States citizen either to violate or order the violation of the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949. The Federalist Society Cabal. I am not personally criticizing President Bush. He is not a lawyer. He was terribly advised, criminally mis-advised, by the cabal of Federalist Society lawyers that the Bush administration has assembled at the White House and the Department of Injustice under Ashcroft. President Bush, Jr., by signing this order, has opened himself up to prosecution anywhere in the world for violating the Third Geneva Convention, and certainly if there is evidence to believe that any of these individuals have been tortured, which is grave breach, let alone at the end of the day executed. So this is a very serious matter. I did not vote for President Bush, Jr. But I certainly think it is a tragedy that these Federalist Society lawyers got the President of the United States of America, who is not a lawyer, to sign the order that would incriminate him under the Geneva Conventions and United States Domestic Criminal Law. This is what happened. Jeopardizing U.S. Armed Forces. Moreover, by us stating we will not apply the Third Geneva Convention to these people we opened up United States armed forces to be denied protection under the Third Geneva Convention. And as you know, we now have U.S. armed forces in operation in Afghanistan, Georgia, the Philippines, in Yemen and perhaps in Iraq. Basically Bush’s position will be jeopardizing their ability to claim prisoner of war status. All that has to happen is our adversaries say they are unlawful combatants and we will not give you prisoner of war status. The Third Geneva Convention is one of the few protections U.S. armed forces have when they go into battle. Bush, Jr. and his Federalist Society lawyers just pulled the rug out from under them. U.S. Police State. In addition the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights clearly applies down in Guantanamo. It applies any time individuals are under the jurisdiction of the United States of America. Guantanamo is a colonial enclave, I will not go through its status any further. But clearly those individuals are subject to our jurisdiction and have the rights set forth therein – which are currently being denied. If and when many of these Bush, Ashcroft, Gonzalez police state practices make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, we have to consider that a five to four majority of the Supreme Court gave the presidency to Bush, Jr. What is going to stop that same five to four majority from giving Bush, Jr. a police state? The only thing that is going to stop it is the people in this room.”
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed: “Western wars have killed four million Muslims since 1990. Landmark research proves that the US-led ‘war on terror’ has killed as many as 2 million people, but this is a fraction of Western responsibility for deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two decades. Last month, the Washington DC-based Physicians for Social Responsibility (PRS) released a landmark study concluding that the death toll from 10 years of the “War on Terror” since the 9/11 attacks is at least 1.3 million, and could be as high as 2 million. The 97-page report by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning doctors’ group is the first to tally up the total number of civilian casualties from US-led counter-terrorism interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The PSR report is authored by an interdisciplinary team of leading public health experts, including Dr. Robert Gould, director of health professional outreach and education at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and Professor Tim Takaro of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. Yet it has been almost completely blacked out by the English-language media, despite being the first effort by a world-leading public health organisation to produce a scientifically robust calculation of the number of people killed by the US-UK-led “war on terror”. The PSR report is described by Dr Hans von Sponeck, former UN assistant secretary-general, as “a significant contribution to narrowing the gap between reliable estimates of victims of war, especially civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and tendentious, manipulated or even fraudulent accounts”. The report conducts a critical review of previous death toll estimates of “war on terror” casualties. It is heavily critical of the figure most widely cited by mainstream media as authoritative, namely, the Iraq Body Count (IBC) estimate of 110,000 dead. That figure is derived from collating media reports of civilian killings, but the PSR report identifies serious gaps and methodological problems in this approach. For instance, although 40,000 corpses had been buried in Najaf since the launch of the war, IBC recorded only 1,354 deaths in Najaf for the same period. That example shows how wide the gap is between IBC’s Najaf figure and the actual death toll – in this case, by a factor of over 30. Such gaps are replete throughout IBC’s database. In another instance, IBC recorded just three airstrikes in a period in 2005, when the number of air attacks had in fact increased from 25 to 120 that year. Again, the gap here is by a factor of 40. According to the PSR study, the much-disputed Lancet study that estimated 655,000 Iraq deaths up to 2006 (and over a million until today by extrapolation) was likely to be far more accurate than IBC’s figures. In fact, the report confirms a virtual consensus among epidemiologists on the reliability of the Lancet study. Despite some legitimate criticisms, the statistical methodology it applied is the universally recognised standard to determine deaths from conflict zones, used by international agencies and governments. Politicised denial. PSR also reviewed the methodology and design of other studies showing a lower death toll, such as a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, which had a range of serious limitations. That paper ignored the areas subject to the heaviest violence, namely Baghdad, Anbar and Nineveh, relying on flawed IBC data to extrapolate for those regions. It also imposed “politically-motivated restrictions” on collection and analysis of the data – interviews were conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, which was “totally dependent on the occupying power” and had refused to release data on Iraqi registered deaths under US pressure. In particular, PSR assessed the claims of Michael Spaget, John Sloboda and others who questioned the Lancet study data collection methods as potentially fraudulent. All such claims, PSR found, were spurious. The few “justified criticisms,” PSR concludes, “do not call into question the results of the Lancet studies as a whole. These figures still represent the best estimates that are currently available”. The Lancet findings are also corroborated by the data from a new study in PLOS Medicine, finding 500,000 Iraqi deaths from the war. Overall, PSR concludes that the most likely number for the civilian death toll in Iraq since 2003 to date is about 1 million. To this, the PSR study adds at least 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, killed as the direct or indirect consequence of US-led war: a “conservative” total of 1.3 million. The real figure could easily be “in excess of 2 million”. Yet even the PSR study suffers from limitations. Firstly, the post-9/11 “war on terror” was not new, but merely extended previous interventionist policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Secondly, the huge paucity of data on Afghanistan meant the PSR study probably underestimated the Afghan death toll. Iraq.
The war on Iraq did not begin in 2003, but in 1991 with the first Gulf War, which was followed by the UN sanctions regime. An early PSR study by Beth Daponte, then a US government Census Bureau demographer, found that Iraq deaths caused by the direct and indirect impact of the first Gulf War amounted to around 200,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians. Meanwhile, her internal government study was suppressed. After US-led forces pulled out, the war on Iraq continued in economic form through the US-UK imposed UN sanctions regime, on the pretext of denying Saddam Hussein the materials necessary to make weapons of mass destruction. Items banned from Iraq under this rationale included a vast number of items needed for everyday life. Undisputed UN figures show that 1.7 million Iraqi civilians died due to the West’s brutal sanctions regime, half of whom were children. The mass death was seemingly intended. Among items banned by the UN sanctions were chemicals and equipment essential for Iraq’s national water treatment system. A secret US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) document discovered by Professor Thomas Nagy of the School of Business at George Washington University amounted, he said, to “an early blueprint for genocide against the people of Iraq”. In his paper for the Association of Genocide Scholars at the University of Manitoba, Professor Nagi explained that the DIA document revealed “minute details of a fully workable method to ‘fully degrade the water treatment system’ of an entire nation” over a period of a decade. The sanctions policy would create “the conditions for widespread disease, including full scale epidemics,” thus “liquidating a significant portion of the population of Iraq”. This means that in Iraq alone, the US-led war from 1991 to 2003 killed 1.9 million Iraqis; then from 2003 onwards around 1 million: totalling just under 3 million Iraqis dead over two decades. Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, PSR’s estimate of overall casualties could also be very conservative. Six months after the 2001 bombing campaign, The Guardian’s Jonathan Steele revealed that anywhere between 1,300 and 8,000 Afghans were killed directly, and as many as a further 50,000 people died avoidably as an indirect result of the war. In his book, Body Count: Global Avoidable Mortality Since 1950 (2007), Professor Gideon Polya applied the same methodology used by The Guardian to UN Population Division annual mortality data to calculate plausible figures for excess deaths. A retired biochemist at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Polya concludes that total avoidable Afghan deaths since 2001 under ongoing war and occupation-imposed deprivation amount to around 3 million people, about 900,000 of whom are infants under five. Although Professor Polya’s findings are not published in an academic journal, his 2007 Body Count study has been recommended by California State University sociologist Professor Jacqueline Carrigan as “a data-rich profile of the global mortality situation” in a review published by the Routledge journal, Socialism and Democracy. As with Iraq, US intervention in Afghanistan began long before 9/11 in the form of covert military, logistical and financial aid to the Taliban from around 1992 onwards. This US assistance propelled the Taliban’s violent conquest of nearly 90 percent of Afghan territory [8]. In a 2001 National Academy of Sciences report, Forced Migration and Mortality, leading epidemiologist Steven Hansch [9], a director of Relief International, noted that total excess mortality in Afghanistan due to the indirect impacts of war through the 1990s could be anywhere between 200,000 and 2 million. The Soviet Union, of course, also bore responsibility for its role in devastating civilian infrastructure, thus paving the way for these deaths. Altogether, this suggests that the total Afghan death toll due to the direct and indirect impacts of US-led intervention since the early nineties until now could be as high 3-5 million. Denial. According to the figures explored here, total deaths from Western interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan since the 1990s – from direct killings and the longer-term impact of war-imposed deprivation – likely constitute around 4 million (2 million in Iraq from 1991-2003, plus 2 million from the “war on terror”), and could be as high as 6-8 million people when accounting for higher avoidable death estimates in Afghanistan. Such figures could well be too high, but will never know for sure. US and UK armed forces, as a matter of policy, refuse to keep track of the civilian death toll of military operations – they are an irrelevant inconvenience. Due to the severe lack of data in Iraq, almost complete non-existence of records in Afghanistan, and the indifference of Western governments to civilian deaths, it is literally impossible to determine the true extent of loss of life. In the absence of even the possibility of corroboration, these figures provide plausible estimates based on applying standard statistical methodology to the best, if scarce, evidence available. They give an indication of the scale of the destruction, if not the precise detail. Much of this death has been justified in the context of fighting tyranny and terrorism. Yet thanks to the silence of the wider media, most people have no idea of the true scale of protracted terror wrought in their name by US and UK tyranny in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Human Rights Watch (2004): “Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States went to war in Afghanistan in the name of national security and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, and with a stated secondary aim of liberating the people of Afghanistan from the cruel and capricious rule of the Taliban. Yet today, on Afghan soil, the United States is maintaining a system of arrests and detention as part of its ongoing military and intelligence operations that violates international human rights law and international humanitarian law (the laws of war). In doing so, the United States is endangering the lives of Afghan civilians, undermining efforts to restore the rule of law in Afghanistan, and calling into question its commitment to upholding basic rights. This report, based on research conducted in southeast and eastern Afghanistan in 2003 and early 2004, focuses on how U.S. forces arrest and detain persons in Afghanistan.1 It details numerous abuses by U.S. personnel, including cases of excessive force during arrests; arbitrary and indefinite detention; and mistreatment of detainees. The report also details the overall legal deficiencies of the U.S.-administered detention system in Afghanistan, which, as shown here, operates almost entirely outside of the rule of law. (…) The Geneva Conventions do not require reciprocity to be applicable. Abuses by one party to a conflict, no matter how egregious, do not justify violations by the other side. This is a fundamental principle of international humanitarian law. (…) From 2002 to the present (March 2004), Human Rights Watch estimates that at least one thousand Afghans and other nationals have been arrested and detained by U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. Some of those apprehended have been picked up during military operations while taking direct part in hostilities, but others taken into custody have been civilians with no apparent connection to ongoing hostilities. (…) There are numerous reports that U.S. forces have used excessive or indiscriminate force when conducting arrests in residential areas in Afghanistan. As shown in this report, U.S. military forces have repeatedly used deadly force from helicopter gunships and small and heavy arms fire, including undirected suppressing fire, during what are essentially law-enforcement operations to arrest persons in uncontested locales. The use of these tactics has resulted in avoidable civilian deaths and injuries, and in individual cases may amount to violations of international humanitarian law. (…) Afghan forces have been put under the de facto control or command of U.S. forces during operations, U.S. personnel have a responsibility to prevent ongoing abuses by Afghan troops, and may be criminally culpable if they fail to do so. Many of those arrested by U.S. forces are detained for indefinite periods at U.S. military bases or outposts. While held, these detainees have no contact with relatives or others, although some detainees receive visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Detainees have no opportunity to challenge the basis for their detention, and are sometimes subjected to mistreatment or torture. Some detainees have been sent to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, (…) Many have ultimately been released; but some detainees in Afghanistan have been held for over two years. The U.S. military maintains its main detention facility in Afghanistan at the Bagram airbase, north of the capital Kabul. There are an unknown number of additional U.S. detention facilities in the country, including at bases in Kandahar, Jalalabad, and Asadabad. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is also holding an unknown number of detainees, both at Bagram airbase and at other locations in Afghanistan, including in Kabul. Furthermore, the United States has encouraged local Afghan authorities to detain hundreds of persons taken into custody during joint U.S.-Afghan operations. These persons are held without charge and in poor conditions, and some have been subjected to torture and other mistreatment. (…)Human Rights Watch is also concerned about mistreatment of detainees in custody. Human Rights Watch has had access only to detainees released from U.S. custody.3 Human Rights Watch researchers therefore have only been able to interview detainees whom U.S. authorities did not consider to be a security risk or indictable for criminal offenses. From these detainees, however, Human Rights Watch has received credible allegations of mistreatment in U.S. custody. These allegations are consistent with other allegations received by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and numerous international journalists. (…)Afghans detained at Bagram airbase in 2002 have described being held in detention for weeks, continuously shackled, intentionally kept awake for extended periods of time, and forced to kneel or stand in painful positions for extended periods. Some say they were kicked and beaten when arrested, or later as part of efforts to keep them awake. Some say they were doused with freezing water in the winter. Similar allegations have been made about treatment in 2002 and 2003 at U.S. military bases in Kandahar and in U.S. detention facilities in the eastern cities of Jalalabad and Asadabad. In December 2002 two Afghan detainees died at Bagram. Both of their deaths were ruled homicides by U.S. military doctors who performed autopsies. Department of Defense officials claim to have launched an investigation into the deaths in March 2003. In June 2003, another Afghan died at a detention site near Asadabad, in Kunar province. The Department of Defense has yet to explain adequately the circumstances of any of these deaths. Human Rights Watch is concerned that the results of any investigations may never be publicized, and that appropriate criminal and disciplinary action may never take place. Concerns about conditions at Bagram persist. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has collected complaints alleging torture and mistreatment made by recently released detainees and families of persons still detained. Human Rights Watch is also deeply concerned about the lack of legal process for detainees. The United States has set up a system in Afghanistan that does not provide detainees a process whereby they can contest their detention and obtain their release. Ordinary civilians caught up in military operations and arrested are left in a hopeless situation. Once in custody, they have no way of challenging the legal basis for their detention or obtaining a hearing before an adjudicative body. They have no access to legal counsel. Their release is wholly dependent on decisions of the U.S. military command, with little apparent regard for the requirements of international law—whether the treatment of civilians under international humanitarian law or the due process requirements of human rights law. Not a single person detained in Afghanistan since the start of U.S. operations in 2001 has been afforded prisoner-of-war status or other legal status under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. No one held by the United States since the start of hostilities to thepresent has been charged or tried for any crime (with the single exception of John Walker Lindh, a U.S. citizen) nor has the United States or the present Afghan government set up any tribunals or other legal mechanisms to process detainees captured in connection with military operations. The United States continues to treat all detainees it has captured in Afghanistan as “unlawful combatants” it considers not entitled to the full protections of the Geneva Conventions or of human rights law. The Afghan government also has obligations to protect the rights of persons within its borders. President Hamid Karzai has complained to U.S. authorities on occasion about abuses by U.S. troops. (…)The violations of detainees’ rights documented in this report are exacerbated by the almost complete opacity maintained by U.S. officials about the Bagram facility and other detention facilities in Afghanistan. The United States refuses to allow access to detainees’ families, lawyers, or advocates, or to journalists or representatives of nongovernmental organizations (other than the ICRC). And it is not evident that the detention system maintained by the United States in Afghanistan is conducive to the security of U.S. forces. The routine arrests and indefinite detention of persons who have no genuine connection to armed opposition groups has angered many Afghan communities and lessened their willingness to cooperate with U.S forces. Almost nothing is known about U.S. investigations or prosecutions of U.S. military personnel for alleged violations of international humanitarian law. (…)Simply put, the United States operates its detention facilities in Afghanistan in a climate of almost total impunity. As noted, the Department of Defense has not even released the results of its investigations into the deaths of Afghan detainees at Bagram and Asadabad and has yet to explain adequately the circumstances of these deaths. Nor have U.S. officials adequately responded to inquiries about alleged mistreatment and torture by U.S. forces in Afghanistan made by human rights groups and members of the U.S. Congress. There is little doubt that U.S. policies on the detention of terrorism suspects—both in Afghanistan and elsewhere—have harmed public opinion of the United States around the world, and have damaged some of its efforts in building a coalition to combat international terrorism. These policies are also making it more difficult for the United States to criticize other governments for violating international human rights and humanitarian law standards in maintaining detention facilities. Every year, the U.S. State Department publishes “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,” which contain criticisms of abuses similar to those documented in this report, such as beatings, use of sleep deprivation, continuous shackling, and long-term isolation.6 The United States is undermining the effectiveness of these reports by committing the same abuses it has rightly criticized elsewhere. The U.S. detention policy in Afghanistan serves as a poor example for other nations around the world, and for Afghanistan itself. Afghan warlords whose troops are deployed alongside U.S. forces in Afghanistan have done little to improve their horrific records with regard to the treatment of detained persons. Instead of setting a positive example for them, the behavior of the United States sends the message that the U.S. operates on a set of double standards. And worldwide, it is now all too easy for governments to justify their failures to uphold human rights by pointing to U.S. violations in Afghanistan. It doesn’t have to be this way. Human Rights Watch believes that the protections provided under international humanitarian and human rights law do not conflict with the security of states. (…)But in Afghanistan, the United States appears to have allowed its single-minded pursuit of security to obscure the obligation to protect individual rights, rights deeply ingrained in U.S. constitutional law and reflected in international law (as well as in the former and current Afghan constitutions). This course of action is shortsighted and damaging to the rule of law, not only in Afghanistan but across the world. (…) Even if the United States maintains that an international armed conflict persists in Afghanistan (see International Legal Context section below), U.S. actions with regard to its detainees would remain contrary to international law. During international armed conflict, civilians may be detained for “imperative reasons of security,” but they may not be held indefinitely without review. The Fourth Geneva Convention permits detention “only if the security of the Detaining Power makes it absolutely necessary.” Even then, the internee is entitled to have his internment reconsidered “as soon as possible” before an appropriate court or administrative board set up by the Detaining Power for that purpose. Thus, most of the standards applicable to non-international conflict are applicable even to international conflicts. By flaunting these standards, the United States is violating international law. (…)At the scene of the attack, local residents found two dead Afghan soldiers with their hands bound with plastic ties similar to those commonly used by U.S. troops. They had apparently died from gunshot wounds to the torso. Residents were unable to determine whether they had been bound before they were killed or whether they were wounded, bound, and then subsequently died. The deaths raise serious issues that the U.S. military should fully investigate. If the men were intentionally killed after their capture, the killing would amount to an extrajudicial execution and violation of the laws of war. If the men received their injuries before being captured, then it may have been unlawful for the U.S. forces to leave them bound without providing them proper medical attention.99 That the U.S. forces were able to take some two dozen persons into custody suggests that they would have been fully capable of taking the other two for medical treatment. (…)Human Rights Watch has written repeatedly in 2003 and 2004 to officials in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (which CENTCOM officials have said is responsible for the Bagram investigation) asking for information about all three of the detainee deaths. Officials from both offices have replied and stated that the investigation into the Bagram deaths is ongoing and that no information is available. As for the Asadabad death, both offices have refused to release any information at all—not even a statement that an investigation is ongoing. (…)The prohibition against the ill treatment and torture of detainees is fundamental to both international humanitarian and human rights law. Common article 3 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions prohibits torture, cruel treatment, and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” The “Fundamental Guarantees” under Protocol I of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions, generally accepted as customary international law in non-international as well as international armed conflicts, likewise prohibit “at any time and in any place whatsoever . . . torture of all kinds, whether physical or mental.” Human rights law similarly prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. The prohibition against torture and other mistreatment is in effect at all times, and cannot be derogated from during a state of emergency. (…) Prolonged shackling of detainees violates international law prohibitions against mistreatment, and can amount to torture. The Special Rapporteur on Torture has repeatedly and in various contexts identified shackling for lengthy periods as an example of a torture practice. The U.N. Secretary General has also referred to shackling as an example of a prohibited method of torture. (…)Human rights law includes, among other things, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, both of which have been ratified by the United States and Afghanistan. This report raises serious concerns regarding the actions of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, specifically with regard to the use of excessive force during arrests; arbitrary or mistaken arrests and indefinite detention; and mistreatment in detention: U.S. forces regularly use military means and methods during arrest operations in residential areas where law enforcement techniques would be more appropriate. This has resulted in unnecessary civilian casualties and may in some cases have involved indiscriminate or disproportionate force in violation of international humanitarian law. Members of the U.S. armed forces have arrested numerous civilians not directly participating in the hostilities and numerous persons whom U.S. authorities have no legal basis for taking into custody. These cases raise serious questions about the intelligence gathering and processing that leads to arrests and call into question the practice of arresting any and sometimes all Afghan men found in the vicinity of U.S. military operations. Persons detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan are held without regard to the requirements of international humanitarian law or human rights law. They are not provided reasons for their arrest or detention. They are held virtually incommunicado without any legal basis for challenging their detention or seeking their release. They are held at the apparent whim of U.S. authorities, in some cases for more than a year. The general lack of due process within the U.S. detention system violates both international humanitarian law and basic standards of human rights law. The United States, as a detaining power in Afghanistan, is essentially applying no legal principles to the persons whom they detain in Afghanistan. Simply put, the United States is acting outside the rule of law. There are no judicial processes restraining their actions in arresting persons in Afghanistan. The only real legal limits on their activities are self-imposed, and there is little evidence that the Department of Defense has seriously investigated allegations of abuses or mistreatment at Bagram, and the department has most certainly not sought on its own to correct the legal deficiencies of its detention regime. There are serious concerns regarding the treatment of detainees at Bagram airbase, particularly in light of the failure of the United States to investigate and publicly report on several unexplained deaths in detention. There is credible evidence of beatings and other physical assaults of detainees, as well as evidence that the United States has used prolonged shackling, exposure to cold, and sleep deprivation amounting to torture or other mistreatment in violation of international law. Neither the U.S. Department of Defense nor the CIA has adequately responded to allegations of mistreatment at U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan.”
Human Rights Watch: (2015) “It is now well established that following the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operated a global, state-sanctioned program in which it abducted scores of people throughout the world, held them in secret detention—sometimes for years—or “rendered” them to various countries, and tortured or otherwise ill-treated them. While the program officially ended in 2009, the cover-up of these crimes appears to be ongoing. Many detainees were held by the CIA in pitch-dark windowless cells, chained to walls, naked or diapered, for weeks or months at a time. The CIA forced them into painful stress positions that made it impossible for them to lie down or sleep for days, to the point where many hallucinated or begged to be killed to end their misery. It used “waterboarding” and similar techniques to cause near suffocation or drowning, crammed detainees naked into tiny boxes, and prevented them from bathing, using toilets, or cutting their hair or nails for months. “We looked like monsters,” one detainee said of his appearance while in CIA custody. Much new information about detention and interrogation in the CIA program became public with the release in redacted form of the 499-page summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report in December 2014 (“Senate Summary”). The Senate Summary reported that the CIA subjected at least five detainees to “rectal feeding,” described in one case as infusing the pureed contents of a lunch tray into the detainee’s rectum via a medical tube, done “without evidence of medical necessity.” The Senate Summary also found that during a waterboarding session, one detainee became “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” The CIA forced some detainees to stand for days on end without sleep while they had broken bones in their legs and feet, even though CIA personnel knew this would cause them longterm physical injury. A CIA cable described one detainee as “clearly a broken man” and “on the verge of complete breakdown.” Much new information about detention and interrogation in the CIA program became public with the release in redacted form of the 499-page summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report in December 2014 (“Senate Summary”). The Senate Summary reported that the CIA subjected at least five detainees to “rectal feeding,” described in one case as infusing the pureed contents of a lunch tray into the detainee’s rectum via a medical tube, done “without evidence of medical necessity.” The Senate Summary also found that during a waterboarding session, one detainee became “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” The CIA forced some detainees to stand for days on end without sleep while they had broken bones in their legs and feet, even though CIA personnel knew this would cause them longterm physical injury. A CIA cable described one detainee as “clearly a broken man” and “on the verge of complete breakdown.” The US government has not adequately accounted for these abuses. It has an obligation under international law to prosecute torture where warranted and provide redress to victims, but it has done neither. No one with real responsibility for these crimes has beenheld accountable and the government has actively thwarted attempts on the part of victims to obtain redress and compensation in US courts. The Obama administration asserted that it conducted a criminal investigation of the CIA program through a Department of Justice inquiry led by a career prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney John Durham. The Durham investigation closed on August 30, 2012 without bringing any criminal charges. The apparent failure of the investigation to question current or former detainees undercuts any claims that it was thorough or credible. As set out in this report, Human Rights Watch concludes there is substantial evidence to support the opening of new investigations into allegations of criminal offenses by numerous US officials and agents in connection with the CIA program. These include torture, assault, sexual abuse, war crimes, and conspiracy to commit such crimes. In reaching this conclusion, we have drawn on our own investigations, media and other public reports, and the declassified information in the Senate Summary. But more evidence exists that has yet to be made public. We believe that an independent and impartial investigation that has access to the full Senate report, other information that the government continues to keep classified, and interviews with current and former detainees, would yield further evidence of crimes and identify more suspects than we do here. US officials who played a role in the process of creating, authorizing, and implementing the CIA program should be among those investigated for conspiracy to torture as well as other crimes. They include: Acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo, Assistant Attorney General for Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) Jay Bybee, OLC Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, an individual identified as “CTC Legal” in the Senate Summary, CIA Director George Tenet, National Security Legal Advisor John Bellinger, Attorney General John Ashcroft, White House Counsel Legal Advisor Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the Vice President David Addington, Deputy White House Counsel Timothy Flanigan, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes II, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President George W. Bush. In addition, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, CIA psychologist contractors who devised the program, proposed it to the CIA, and helped carry it out, should also be investigated for their role in the initial conspiracy. We believe there is also sufficient evidence to investigate others who were not necessarily part of the initial conspiracy but who later joined it. Individuals can join an already existing conspiracy if they are aware of the conspiracy’s unlawful aims, in this case torture, and take steps intended to help the conspiracy succeed. These would include those who reauthorized the program after the legal memos endorsing it—the “Torture Memos”— were withdrawn, those who supplied false information to the Justice Department upon which the Justice Department relied in providing reauthorization, and those who later oversaw operation of the CIA program. Others should not only be investigated for torture but also for offenses such as war crimes, assault, and sexual abuse. Even if individuals who carried out the torture can be said to have reasonably relied in good faith upon OLC memos or CIA guidance to justify their conduct—which, as detailed below, there is serious reason to doubt—considerable evidence exists that CIA officers and interrogators tortured detainees in ways that went beyond what was authorized. This report also considers and rebuts arguments that barriers to prosecution under US law—such as statutes of limitation, certain defenses, or a “specific intent” requirement— might make it impossible to pursue criminal cases. The failure to credibly investigate and prosecute torture committed in any territory under US jurisdiction violates US obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and other treaties to which the US is a party. Other countries and entities should open their own investigations into CIA torture and should exercise universal jurisdiction, where applicable, over US nationals and others implicated in torture or other abuses. Additionally, countries that were complicit or otherwise unlawfully assisted the CIA program should also conduct investigations into the alleged illegal conduct of their own nationals. Besides violating international law, the US government’s inaction in the face of clear evidence of torture sends a message to future US policymakers and officials that they too can commit torture and other ill-treatment and not fear being held accountable. Several presidential candidates for the 2016 elections have already indicated they would consider using so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” if they were to be elected. (…)Globally, the US unwillingness to prosecute CIA torture weakens US authority to oppose torture and other abuses abroad, provides a ready excuse for countries unwilling to prevent or prosecute torture in their own countries, and undermines global respect for the rule of law. The egregious abuse of prisoners in CIA custody and failure to hold anyone accountable has undermined global efforts to fight terrorism. Detainee abuse, including abuse of prisoners by the US military, has been used by terrorist groups to obtain new recruits and contributed to anti-US sentiment in many countries. Ultimately, the guilt or innocence of any of the US officials involved in organizing or carrying out the CIA program will rest with the criminal justice system. Suspects should be tried in criminal proceedings that comport with international due process and fair trial standards, including allowing them to challenge evidence, present defenses, and raise mitigating circumstances. But before these fundamental institutions of democratic rule can even be set in motion, US criminal justice officials need to first conduct credible investigations and bring charges where appropriate, requirements that have gone unmet for well over a decade since the first revelations of CIA torture after 9/11. (…)Credible Investigations and Prosecutions: The first part of this report examines some of the specific federal criminal charges that could be brought against US officials involved the CIA program. The most senior responsible officials should not be able to avoid culpability on the grounds that they relied on advice from White House lawyers stating that the interrogation techniques used on detainees did not amount to torture. This defense is weak not only because the legal reasoning was so poor that it was soon repudiated by other Bushadministration lawyers and virtually all other legal professionals, but also because, in this case, those involved in the CIA program themselves helped create the legal advice being used as a shield to protect them from accountability for their alleged crimes. Officials in the CIA and at the White House should have known, from the moment the techniques in question were proposed, that they were violating the federal Torture Statute: the techniques were reverse-engineered from a program designed to train US special forces to endure torture, some were explicitly designated as torture by US courts, and many were banned in the US Army Field Manual for Intelligence Interrogations in effect at the time the abuse was approved. And there is evidence in the Senate Summary that officials actually knew that the techniques violated the Torture Statute. According to a Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility investigation (OPR investigation), the CIA, through its acting General Counsel John Rizzo, expressed concern about “criminal liability” under the Torture Statute and sought, but failed to obtain, a guarantee from the Justice Department’s Criminal Division that employees would not be prosecuted for use of the techniques. The Senate Summary also contains a reference to a draft letter to the attorney general from “CTC Legal” —a likely reference to someone in the legal department of the CIA’s counterterrorism center—acknowledging that the “aggressive methods” of interrogation the CIA was planning would violate the Torture Statute. While there are no records showing that the letter was sent, its existence shows that at least some CIA advisers believed from the beginning that the techniques being proposed were illegal. Finally, the OPR investigation also noted that in mid-2002 senior White House and CIA officials appear to have been involved in shaping the contents of the soon-to-be issued legal memos authorizing abusive interrogation techniques, with sections likely added at their request after the Justice Department refusal to give a non-prosecution guarantee. Viewed in this context, there is strong reason to conclude that the infamous and since discredited “Torture Memos” issued by the OLC in August 2002 authorizing techniques that many others had previously determined to be torture, should be viewed as little more than a legal fig leaf. “The position taken by the government lawyers in these legal memoranda amount to counseling a client as to how to get away with violating the law,” said John Gibbons, former chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, after the memos had been released. Other White House and CIA officials and OLC lawyers later joined the conspiracy by knowingly keeping in the dark government officials they knew would oppose the CIA program, allowing the conduct to continue despite knowledge detainees were being mistreated, and reauthorizing the program once original authorizations were revoked after news of torture by the US military at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq became public. CIA personnel also engaged in practices that went well beyond the illegal techniques “authorized” by the Torture Memos. Practices such as “rectal feedings,” use of water to induce near suffocation, and certain painful stress positions, were either not authorized or administered in ways that were not authorized. As such, the memos should not even be contemplated as a defense for such actions. Lastly, while the five-year federal statute of limitations for most federal crimes might be thought to present an insurmountable bar to prosecution, it should not apply to many of the crimes committed as part of the CIA program. It is not a bar to prosecutions for torture or conspiracy to torture when there is a “foreseeable risk that death or serious bodily injury” may result, or to prosecutions for the types of sexual abuse allegedly committed by CIA program personnel. For all federal conspiracy charges, moreover, the statute of limitations can be extended if perpetrators conceal a central component of the conspiracy, as seems to have been the case here. Redress: The second part of this report looks at the US government’s obligation to provide redress to victims of abuse, including compensation and rehabilitation services, guarantees of non-repetition (including through legislation and public statements), and public disclosure of relevant information. The Convention against Torture and other treaties require the US to provide redress for torture and other serious abuses, including arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance. Not only has the US failed to provide compensation or any other form of redress to detainees in CIA custody, the Obama administration has blocked every attempt by former detainees to bring civil suits in US courts by invoking doctrines of state secrecy, state immunity, and national security. International Justice: The third part of this report looks at the efforts of other governments to investigate CIA torture and related abuses that occurred in their countries. Investigations in other countries have targeted US officials as well as national officials alleged to have participated in or been complicit in CIA abuses. The duty to prosecute serious violations of international law lies primarily with domestic judicial authorities in the country with principal jurisdiction over the crime. This normally requires having a territorial link to the crime or the persons involved. However, third countries can also investigate and prosecute on the basis of universal jurisdiction—laws embodying the idea that certain crimes, including torture and war crimes, are so egregious that every state has an interest in bringing perpetrators to justice. The Convention against Torture contains a universal jurisdiction clause that places an affirmative duty on governments to prosecute suspects who come on their territory regardless of where the torture took place. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 relating to war crimes contains similar provisions. The US government’s failure to conduct its own thorough and credible investigations into allegations of torture increases the importance of states exercising universal jurisdiction for crimes alleged to have been carried out as part of the CIA program. Although the United States is not a party to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the ICC may also be an avenue to accountability for alleged abuses by US nationals in Afghanistan. The ICC is conducting a preliminary examination of the situation in Afghanistan, which includes alleged torture of detainees by US armed forces there. (…)The harm of CIA torture was compounded by the US military’s adoption of many of the CIA-approved interrogation techniques. (…)Evidence has long been available that US officials and agents violated US federal law, as well as international law, in connection with the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program.124 Failure to prosecute torture is itself a violation of the Convention against Torture.125 The release of the Senate Summary puts forward further evidence of wrongdoing that the US government is obligated under international law to investigate and appropriately prosecute, as well as provide redress to victims. However, the US has largely failed to act. The Obama administration and others have put forward three broad reasons why the US need not and should not conduct criminal investigations into alleged abuses by US officials connected to the CIA interrogation program: “An investigation was already conducted” (…) “Prosecutions would be politically harmful” (…) “Prosecutions of those involved in the CIA program are not viable under US law” (…) As mentioned above, international human rights law, notably the Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), obligates states to conduct impartial investigations and appropriately prosecute government officials responsible for torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. The UN Committee against Torture has stated that a government’s obligation “to investigate, punish, and prevent further torture or ill-treatment in the future” should give “particular attention to the legal responsibility of both the direct perpetrators and officials in the chain of command, whether by acts of instigation, consent or acquiescence.” (…) The UN Human Rights Committee, the independent expert body that monitors state compliance with the ICCPR, has stated that where investigations uncover human rights violations, governments “must ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. As with failure to investigate, failure to bring to justice perpetrators of such violations could in and of itself give rise to a separate breach of the Covenant.” The Committee noted that impunity for arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances, among other abuses, “may well be an important contributing element in the recurrence of the violations.” Neither the Durham inquiry with its narrow mandate and inadequate investigation, nor Obama’s decision to give priority to political considerations, overcome US obligations under international law to prosecute serious human rights violations. (…) The Torture Statute provides criminal penalties for torture, conspiracy to commit torture, and attempts to commit torture occurring outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, regardless of the citizenship of the perpetrator or victim. (…) The CIA also used “rectal rehydration” or “rectal feeding” which, as described in the Senate Summary, would amount to sexual assault, on at least five different detainees. The practice, not known to have been authorized by the OLC, involved inserting pureed food or liquid nutrients into the detainee’s rectum through a tube, presumably without his consent. The CIA claims this was a medically necessary procedure and not an “enhanced interrogation technique.” The Senate Summary, however, states the procedure was done “without evidence of medical necessity.” Medical experts report that use of this type of procedure without evidence of medical necessity is “a form of sexual assault masquerading as medical treatment.” At least three other detainees were threatened with “rectal rehydrations.” Allegations of excessive force used on two detainees during rectal exams to do not appear to have been properly investigated. One of those two detainees, Mustafa alHawsawi, was later diagnosed with chronic hemorrhoids, an anal fissure, and symptomatic rectal prolapse. Some CIA detainees have also reported having suppositories forced into their anus, and other detainees have reported CIA operatives sticking fingers in their anus.(…) In addition to torture and conspiracy to torture, there are a number of other charges that US authorities could bring either on their own or along with conspiracy. These include assault, sexual abuse, murder, and war crimes. In addition, the crime of conspiracy can be brought as a stand-alone charge under the federal conspiracy statute, allowing prosecutors to charge conspiracy even if the underlying offense is never completed. (…) Nine of 14 detainees in CIA custody interviewed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) alleged that they had been subjected to daily beatings during the initial period of their detention. Their beatings involved “repeated slapping, punching and, less often, kicking, to the body and face, as well as a detainee having his head banged against a solid object.” These beatings lasted up to half an hour and were repeated throughout the day and again on subsequent days. They took place during periods ranging from one week up to two to three months. (…)At least three types of sexual abuse charges may apply to CIA actions under federal law. These include sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse, and abusive sexual contact. These provisions make it a crime to force anyone, while in a facility run by any federal department or agency or in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the US, to engage in a sexual act or sexual contact. (…)Another detainee, Manadel al-Jamadi, also died just over five hours after his arrest while undergoing a CIA-led interrogation. A plastic bag had been placed over his head and hewas shackled with his arms behind him to a barred window five feet off the ground. Military investigators deemed it a homicide due to “blunt force trauma” to the head and torso “complicated by compromised respiration” and five broken ribs.439 Both cases were included in the Durham investigation into CIA abuses (see above) but al-Jamadi’s case was not included in the Senate Summary. The reason it was not included is unclear, but it is possibly because his death occurred at Abu Ghraib, a military base, not at a CIA detention center, and there was some military participation. No criminal charges were ever brought in either case yet the publicly available facts indicate that either manslaughter or murder charges were viable in both cases. Though the statute of limitations would likely bar charges for manslaughter today, charges for murder could still be brought since it is a capital crime and therefore not subject to a statute of limitations. Charges may be available under the US War Crimes Act of 1996.443 The act provides criminal punishment for whomever, inside or outside the US, commits a war crime, if either the perpetrator or the victim is a member of the US Armed Forces or a national of the United States.444 A “war crime” is defined as any “grave breach” of the 1949 Geneva Conventions or acts that violate article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949(Common Article 3). Grave breaches include “willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment” of prisoners of war and of civilians qualified as “protected persons.” Common Article 3 prohibits murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” The 2006 Military Commissions Act revised the War Crimes Act and limited the definition of war crimes, with retroactive effect. As a result, humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees in US counterterrorism operations following the September 11 attacks can no longer be charged as a war crime under the statute. However, the Military Commissions Act did not change liability for murder, rape, sexual assault, and torture. (…) US Failure to Comply with International Legal Obligations. Failure to Provide Compensation (…).US treaty obligations require that compensation and other redress be provided without discrimination, regardless of why the person entitled to redress was detained, including whether that person was accused of terrorist acts. US Obstruction of a Right to a Remedy. (…)Guarantee of Non-Repetition, Satisfaction, and the Right to Truth. (…)Obama’s executive order is not adequate to ensure non-repetition in the future—particularly when inaction on investigations and prosecutions sends the message to those responsible for torture that the law will not be enforced. (…)The US government’s failure to conduct adequate criminal investigations into allegations of torture and other serious abuses committed by US nationals in the context of the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program has opened the door to investigations and prosecutions by national judicial authorities outside the United States. Investigations to date have targeted both US officials and those from other countries since a number of European countries provided support to the CIA program, in particular by allowing US officials to establish secret prisons known as “black sites” on their territory or to use their airports and airspace to conduct rendition flights. Several investigations have also focused on allegations of torture and other serious abuses committed outside of the context of the CIA program, principally around torture and ill-treatment of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay; in Iraq (especially at Abu Ghraib prison); and in Afghanistan. In addition, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Afghanistan and is assessing whether to open a formal investigation, including into allegations of detainee abuse by members of the US armed forces. (…)Italy is the only country to have brought a case to trial, which eventually resulted in the final in absentia convictions of CIA officers and a US air force colonel, as well as several Italian officers. (…)a criminal investigation in France is progressing slowly. And Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office is considering whether to open an investigation into senior members of the Bush administration following the filing of a new complaint by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in December 2014, shortly after the release of the Senate Summary.
Mounting evidence of involvement by governments in Europe in the CIA program— underscored by the Senate Summary—and growing pressure from civil society groups, and court judgements, led several countries to open criminal investigations into complicity by their nationals. This includes Poland where the investigations have languished, and in Lithuania where investigations were opened briefly, closed for a number of years, and then reopened when the Senate Summary was made public. UK authorities have initiated four separate investigations, two of which remain open. (…) European efforts at investigating the CIA program have faced political pressure from the US and actions by US authorities to block investigations. European governments will need to demonstrate greater commitment and persistence if these cases are to proceed to indictments and prosecutions. (…) International Criminal Court (ICC) may be another potential forum for holding US officials accountable for post9/11 abuses. In late 2014, the ICC prosecutor said that her office is considering whether to pursue an investigation into torture and other serious abuses allegedly committed by US armed forces in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008.”
BUDDHIST TRIBUNAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS: “Case NORWEGIAN NOBEL COMMITTEE (…) Through the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the American Convention on Human Rights, the International Law prohibits any propaganda or incitement in favor of war, racism, discrimination and violence, (…) has violated the solidarity that unites the nations of the world, by maintaining the practice of inadequate peace or false peace that does not really solve the conflicts but worsens them through the use of violence and war. Even if they are self-defense actions, violence and war never lead to Peace (Santi) and justice. The Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights agrees with the Kellogg-Briand Pact on condemning war as an inadequate way of resolving international disputes, having to renounce to it in order to maintain adequate and peaceful relations between the peoples. (…)Maitriyana cannot remain silent in the face of phenomena of contemporary civilization that threaten world peace and the rule of righteousness (dhamma-cakkam). The Buddhist Law as an ethical order ruling the peaceful coexistence among peoples has much to say in the face of the world’s problems, never yielding to the phenomenon of war. (…) Buddhist law makes a contemplative use of reason to denounce war and militarism as insane violations of international human rights standards. At the same time, the Maitriyana proposes the construction of a new international community that will definitively puts an end to the illegal resource of war. Obviously, the development of a pacifist civilization involves the challenge of eliminating discrimination and violence from communities and individuals. The Buddhist Law states that there is an absolute contradiction between war and justice. In agreement with the jurist Luigi Ferrajoli, the Maitriyana confirms that war is the denial of human rights, just as Buddhist Law is the denial of war. The Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights states that crimes against peace are prohibited in an omni-comprehensive way by the Nuremberg Tribunal and also by the Charter of the United Nations, since the threat and use of military force undermine the integrity and independence of the peoples in an incompatible way with the purposes of humanity. Like International Law, Maitriyana declares that wars are illegal and that conflicts must be resolved only by peaceful means, never jeopardizing or endangering Peace (Santi) and international justice through illusions and false just wars or humanitarian wars. Buddhist law considers any justification for war as unlawful, since its verbal defense is an act as criminal as carrying out the war. In this sense, the Maitriyana affirms that justificationism that uses resources such as holy wars, just wars, ethical wars or humanitarian wars, constitutes complicity with crimes against peace, instead of complying with international law and resolving disputes by peaceful and adequate means. (…) In the same way as jurist Luigi Ferrajoli, the Maitriyana understands war as an absolute evil, stating that it is false the idea that good and Peace (Santi) can be reached by evil and warlike means. Because contemporary civilization uses the idea of just, ethical and humanitarian wars that aim to seek Peace (Santi), the Buddhist Law then considers it is necessary to clarify that this false peace is totally opposed to the vision of right and appropriate peace (Samma-santi) of Maitriyana. False peace, which is the apparent quest for Peace (Santi) by violent means, violates the ethical principle of doing the least possible harm, by attacking thousands of peaceful civilian lives in the name of freedom. False peace and false freedom violate the right to life of the human being, while violating political, economic, cultural and environmental rights, achieving an inadequate or incorrect peace that, in fact, has aggravated the conflict it intended to solve. This fundamental incapacity of war to achieve Peace (Santi) not only can be perceived by the example of American atomic bombs thrown at two Japanese cities, massacring thousands of civilians and sending the dangerous message to the world that it is legitimate to use nuclear weapons, but is also evident in the case of the (United States) fight against terrorism, which has been worsened and strengthened instead of eliminating the causes that have generated it. For the Buddhist Law, war only generates an uncontrollable spiral of greed, hatred and deceit. In fact, just or ethical war is merely an excuse to invade other countries for economic reasons. Faced with this perverse feature of capitalist civilization, the Maitriyana agrees with Ferrajoli that a global and cosmopolitan government must be created, being similar to a Constitutional Democratic Supra-State or Human Rights State that effectively complies with the norms of International Law, unlike what has been done by the UN. The mission of this new type of international community must be the guarantee of world peace and the rule of righteousness (dhamma-cakkam), which can only be achieved by disarming both the States and the citizens of the world, prohibiting the production and trading of all kinds of weaponry, which would obviously reduce both citizen crime and international wars to the minimum. This goal is one of the main responsibilities assumed by the Buddhist Law, seeking to ensure that the economic funds of the enormous military budgets are destined to cure social injustice, ignorance and pollution. In harmony with Ferrajoli’s long-term realism, the Maitriyana proposes the utopian way of a democratic reform of the international community, establishing a system of liberty, equality and fraternity in the relations between peoples. This construction of a future pacifist civilization that is a real alternative to the present warlike civilization is the maximum fulfillment of the human rights of all peoples, which is the main ethical and legal aim of Buddhist Law. The Maitriyana, which was born for the good and the happiness of humankind (manussaloka hita-sukhataya jato), honors Siddharta Gautama as an architect not only of Buddhist Law but also of the path of fundamental rights, which are understood as intrinsic dignity or righteous law. Maitriyana possesses a juridical-political theory that installs itself in the history of philosophical thought as the maximum representative of the ideal of world peace and the rule of righteousness (dhamma-cakkam), considering that the fundamental rights impose negative limits and positive bonds to the executive, legislative and judicial powers. In this way, the Buddhist Law belongs to the iusphilosophical tradition of creators of world peace, such as Kant, Hegel and Ferrajoli. However, Maitriyana has the singularity of presenting a new contribution to the struggle for world peace and the rule of righteousness (dhamma-cakkam) that is different from the contribution of other authors, since it proposes as necessary to implement a world-wide Ethical Power that corrects and guides the international community toward the fulfillment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms. Unlike State Law, the Buddhist Law has no coercive power, being a model of Supra-State Law whose constitutionalism has the transcendental values of liberty, equality and fraternity as its legitimating foundation. This utopia (brahma-vihara) of the Maitriyana’s juridical cosmovision is a critical alternative to the contemporary civilization. For two thousand six hundred years the model of all political juridical organization of Buddhist Law has been the tribal republic (sangha), which is a utopian community that has justice as its central issue, considering the supremacy of the contemplative reason as a cornerstone. It is also a proposal that returns to the ideals of compassionate wisdom (karuna-prajña), so that it is both a theory and praxis of life. The spiritual commune of Maitriyana is the place of a critical encounter between various disciplines that share a similar way of understanding life and the world, clearly stating that the utopia (brahma-vihara) of world peace and the rule of righteousness (dhamma-cakkam) is possible and necessary. Thus, the Buddhist Law is both an ancient and a new paradigm in which social relations between individuals and State powers must be founded on the basis of Peace (Santi), justice, education and health. Therefore, it is a direction beyond egoism, dualism and consumerism; because it transcends the Ego, the Ideology and the Nation, being a new perspective whose main role is human rights. The Maitriyana is the ultimate expression of the desire to transform reality, seeking to create a better world without falling into the illusion of a perfect, permanent and substantial world. It is about the construction of a new libertarian and emancipatory alternative for humanity, aspiring to a new way of political, economic, cultural and ecological organization where world peace, social justice, advanced education and environmental health will reign. In this sense, the utopian juridical cosmovision of Buddhist Law is based on contemplative rationality, which always perceives the constitutional democracy as a guarantee of the fulfillment of the fundamental rights that transcend the mere parliamentary agreement of the majorities, since it protects nothing less than the adequate liberty (samma-vimutti) and intrinsic dignity of the human being. (…)The constitutionality of Buddhist Law allows knowing the reality of the suffering of the fellow beings, who suffer injustices, aggressions and oppressions against their fundamental rights, in order to offer adequate and non-provisional solutions. The Maitriyana always defends the victims, the poor and oppressed, reconfiguring justice as a guardian system of liberty, equality and fraternity. In this way, from the supranational paradigm of the Buddhist Law a new civilization can be created that establishes the empire of ethical values, by vanishing the primitive empire of war, injustice, ignorance and pollution. In agreement with Ferrajoli, the Maitriyana points to a global constitutionalism, building a cosmopolitan democracy that guarantees the full compliance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Here, Abolitionism becomes the formulation of the annulment of State Law, which should leave place for the operative effectiveness of International Law in order to ensure harmonious coexistence and peaceful solution of conflicts both between individuals and between nations. Although the legitimacy of Buddhist Law does not come from the consensus of the majority (consensus omnium) of society, its foundation of legitimacy is nothing less than the defense of liberty, equality and fraternity, which are superior values to both laws and acts of the governments of majorities. Although the universal system of human rights is currently in crisis and decay due to populist regimes emerging as symptoms of the decline of capitalist civilization, undoubtedly, the Path of the Maitriyana will never fail to sustain the constitutionality of fundamental rights, guiding the peoples toward a global democratic constitutionalism. This utopia goes back to the ancient Buddhist Civilization, appealing to conquer the world through the Purpose (Dharma) of world peace and the rule of righteousness (dhamma-cakkam). In this way, the Maitriyana does not aim at a mythical time and place, but rather is a critical way to build a better world in the here and now. This perspective revalues not only the ethical value of Peace (Santi), but also its pragmatic value, because in times of Peace (Santi) people are happier, more developed and friendly, while in times of war only the suffering, involution and hatred emerge. The Utopia of Buddhist Law is a New Reformation that criticizes the incorrect concept of Peace (Santi) that is characteristic of contemporary civilization, building what is understood as righteous or adequate peace (Samma-santi). A just society can only be developed as a product of the beneficial result of the defense of the supreme human right to Peace (Santi). Like the juridical tradition of Kant and Ferrajoli, the Maitriyana seeks the establishment of a Cosmopolitan Supra-State that abolishes war by means of the unity of the peoples, bringing Peace (Santi) back, which is the intrinsic nature of the human being. Such a Cosmopolitan Supra-State must be ruled by World or International Law, which is what the Buddhist Law is proposed to be. The Maitriyana designs an ethical framework of international community in which ethics, metapolitics and justice are integrated, and where Peace (Santi) should not be established but rather reconquered, since it is the natural condition or intrinsic dignity of humanity, even though this has been forgotten. In tune with Kant and Ferrajoli, the Buddhist Law has the idea of creating an international community regulated by world peace and democracy, fully recognizing and fulfilling the fundamental rights of sentient beings. This is because Buddhist Spirituality is the incarnation of the Supreme Compassion (Maha Karuna) extended to all humankind, animals and the Cosmos. Therefore, because they belong to a higher legal ethical order, the spiritual masters of Maitriyana can never stop saying what the world should be. In agreement with Ferrajoli, the Buddhist Law proposes to erect a new international community that is a Constitutional Supra-State of Fundamental Rights, functioning above all the local executive, legislative and judicial powers. The daily work of Maitriyana, whose force of righteous and adequate peace (Samma-santi) is reconciliation (maitri), aspires to the effective realization of this social construction. By eliminating violence and war as legal sanctions, the Buddhist Law is a global juridical pacifism whose utopian horizon is to reshape contemporary civilization. This cosmovision teaches the peoples to be liberated from all forms of domination that violate their fundamental rights, so that contemplative reason is always directed by the Analytical-Existential-Libertarian Discourse (Buddha-Dharma-Sangha). (…) This utopia of Buddhist Law transforms justice in the direction of the fundamental rights of liberty, equality and fraternity. Obviously, this implies that States will be subordinated to the fulfillment of fundamental rights, and not to their mere recognition. (…)The Buddhist Law, as supra-state global constitutionalism, is deeply linked to the fundamental rights and never dissociates itself from the idea that world citizenship has universal access to Peace (Santi), justice, education and health. The constitutional legal dimension of Maitriyana is then integrated to the level of supra-state democracy and humanitarianism in which it is imperative to abolish war, poverty, ignorance and pollution. (…)This ethical, juridical and metapolitical construction implies to surpass the limits of the national States, thinking from a globalized conscience whose support is liberty, equality and fraternity. The utopian juridical program carried out by the Maitriyana’s courts demands the ongoing struggle for higher principles of fundamental rights, such as the supreme human right to Peace (Santi), which is frequently violated by States and international bodies. As long as there is no righteous and adequate peace (Samma-santi), according to the point of view of the Buddhist Law, the international community will be failing, since violence and war -even when carried out for supposed ethical purposes- are unlawful and immoral acts. Although the Path of Peace (Santimagga) followed by Maitriyana is certainly difficult, for it implies the fulfillment of justice and the fundamental rights, there is no other alternative as long as the survival of the world is sought. Throughout the whole of its practice and theory, the Buddhist Law has demonstrated a social engagement with world peace and the rule of righteousness (dhamma-cakkam), being totally against any form of war, even denouncing that those supposed holy, just, ethical and humanitarian wars are nothing more than false peace or inadequate peace. For this reason, the courts of Maitriyana are within the tradition of juridical pacifism, whose model goes beyond state sovereignty in proposing that Peace (Santi) is a supreme international regulation. In accordance with Ferrajoli, the Buddhist Law califies war as the absolute denial of human rights, performing a pacifist activism that has been recorded in numerous cases and sentences of the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights. With the same pacifist commitment of Gautama’s, the Maitriyana responds to wars by means of arguments that de-legitimize their validity and legality, which means extending the abolitionist logic to the international field. (…) The legal pacifism of Maitriyana must criticize the antinomies of State Law that are contrary to the protection of the human right to Peace (Santi), also having to fill the absences of the normative guarantees. This conception leads Buddhist Law to consider that the war, poverty, ignorance and pollution that people suffer are juridical violations. In this way, the Maitriyana reformulates the International Law from a new ethical, abolitionist and restorative paradigm, criticizing the unfulfilled promises of the International Law of UN with regard to Peace (Santi) and human rights. The legal nature of Buddhist Law is then communal but also international, and it is precisely the prohibition of violence and war which is its constitutive norm, since conflict resolution must always be through righteous and adequate peace (Samma-santi). (…) Thus the Maitriyana argues that legality and justice must be clearly guided by ethical values and never by mere conventional laws that often justify the perverse existence of legal, just or humanitarian wars. Within the juridical pacifist paradigm of Buddhist Law, the legal exercise of violence and war is contradictory to fundamental rights, since Peace (Santi) is the structural essence of justice. When the law is not at the service of the peaceful settlement of disputes, making a justified use of violence or war, then the law becomes illegitimate. The Maitriyana concludes that Peace (Santi) consists of the Perennial Law of human nature or intrinsic dignity, whereas war is only an artificial and irrational construction of the State. From this perspective, the use of violence should never be exercised by the individual neither by the State, so that the legal foundation of Buddhist Law is the prohibition of all forms of violence. In agreement with Ferrajoli, the Maitriyana considers that affirming the existence of supposed just, legitimate, ethical or humanitarian wars is nothing more than to appeal to the contradiction of ethical or humanitarian genocides. Thus, in line with Ferrajoli, it is established that humanitarian military interventions have purely terrorist connotations, and therefore any political or moral justification of war is illegal. Since the time of Master Gautama and King Ashoka, the Buddhist Spirituality has explicitly taught that conquest by means of armies must be abandoned, replacing that primitive mechanism with conquest by means of Law (dharmavijaya), disseminating the message of Peace and tolerance instead of war and hatred. The fundamental norm of Buddhist Law is the prohibition of war, and this prohibition is what Ferrajoli has proposed as a fundamental norm for all legal regulations of International Law. (…) The juridical pacifism of Maitriyana also goes beyond the mere abolition of war (adandena asatthena), since not only proposes Peace (Santi) as a means of resolving national and international conflicts, but also conceives the close link between world peace, social justice, advanced education and environmental health. In this way, like Ferrajoli, the Buddhist Law is a pacifism concerned with the full compliance of International Human Rights Law, seeking the abolition of war, poverty, ignorance and pollution. This implies prohibiting and declaring armies and armaments as illegal, redirecting the huge military expenditures toward eliminating social inequality. (…) This practical Path of Buddhist Law is accompanied by the powerful Analytical-Existential-Libertarian Discourse (Buddha-Dharma-Sangha), which is capable of producing a global counterhegemonic transformation from the very foundations of society, ensuring the survival of humanity and Mother Earth through the fulfillment of the human right to Peace (Santi) and the human right to a healthy environment. (…) For this reason, the Buddhist Law teaches the new generations how to fully enjoy Peace (Santi), social justice, education and health, rethinking the democratic system and the human rights. (…) In this way, the Maitriyana maintains an enormous and unbreakable commitment to Truth, memory and justice, developing a peaceful and idealistic struggle for a better world. The starting point for this Path must be the empathic civilization, which is the development of peaceful and harmonious coexistence both between peoples and between humanity and nature. This goal leads to Buddhist Law and its pursuit of democratization and culture of justice. Currently, the Buddhist People have enjoyed two thousand six hundred years of history of culture of Peace (Santi), so that their experiences are vital for the future of humanity. Thus, the Maitriyana pathway is an absolute disregard for militarism, seeking to extinguish it completely through the Rule of Law and Righteousness (dhamma-cakkam). (…) Looking to the past and future, the Maitriyana gives form in the present to a democratic way that protects and evolves the human rights, being a foundational action of a new international order where the scourges of war, poverty, ignorance and pollution are adequately combated. (…) The Buddhist Law, as a Global Ethical Power, has the duty to confront these conflicts, seeking the fulfillment of human rights in order to build a civilization of Peace (Santi) and solidarity. The Maitriyana makes a critical analysis of how the regimes of the world perversely violate democracy and establish authoritarianism in the name of Peace (Santi) and justice. This is due to the complicity by omission of those who do not denounce evil and tolerate the great genocides of history. The contemporary world lacks adequate ethical leadership, for the major superpowers and even some Nobel Peace Prizes seem to be actively participating in crimes against humanity. This shows that there is currently a clash of civilizations between the present Capitalist Civilization and the Dharmic Civilization of the future. (…) There is undoubtedly a clash of civilizations between the contemporary materialistic civilization and the peaceful buddhic civilization that will inevitably emerge. This evolutionary inevitability is due to the fact that humanity is at a point in its history in which, if it does not accept the harmonious lifestyle (samma-cariya) based on peaceful coexistence, then it will disappear from the face of the planet through self-destruction based on world war, extreme poverty, illiteracy and the destruction of ecosystems. Therefore, there is a turning point in which the human being must make the following decision: to evolve or perish. Thus, if humankind will survive it will inevitably be due to an ethical transformation or spiritual evolution of the international community. The Buddhist Law is then a progress on the Path of Peace (Santimagga) toward the emergence of this new order of planetary justice. While the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights criticizes USA’s claim to be the world police, the Ethical Power of Maitriyana is undoubtedly in favor of building a universal Juridical Power in which all citizens and nations of the world are able to solve conflicts through appropriate peaceful means. This goal to which the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights contributes is the most important democratic norm in history, being the great legacy of spiritual masters so that the present and future generations may learn to live in equanimity and adequate tolerance (…), it is undoubtedly a pacifist tradition of civil resistance against the authoritarian governments that are violating human dignity and adequate liberty (samma-vimutti). (…) Since the materialistic liberal universalism of the contemporary civilization has absolutely failed, which its greatest symptoms are terrorism and populism, the Buddhist Law is positioned beyond the left and right politics in proposing a libertarian socialist universalism as a solution to the great problems of the world which are wars, social injustice, ignorance and pollution. (…) This implies a psychic and social transformation of the human being, who must assume the guidelines of Peace (Santi), justice, knowledge and ecology, since otherwise humanity will self-destruct. (…) The Maitriyana confirms that the global revolution will not come from the figures of workers, as Marxism mistakenly considered, but rather the future global revolution will come actually from those human beings willing to realize an existence of Peace (Santi) and respect for the entire human community and also toward all ecosystems. (…) Only this spiritual revolution will guarantee world peace and the rule of righteousness (dhamma-cakkam) among the different nations of the world. (…) In spite of the miseries of current civilization, the Maitriyana teaches that the idea of peace should not be perverted, and that its name should never be associated with the defense of war. (…) Buddhist Law teaches the nations of the world how to cultivate inner Peace (ajjhatta-santi) and outer peace, conveying that righteous and adequate peace (samma-santi) can only be achieved through the three essential practices of contemplation (dhyana), compassionate wisdom (karuna-prajna) and ethics (sila). The Maitriyana trains the individual to become a peace champion (santi-raja), who can assume a position of tranquility and serenity in the face of the great adversities of existence, overcoming them through the peaceful resolution of conflicts, by the achievement of Evanescence (Nirvana) or Sublimation of greed, hatred and deceit. Therefore, the Buddhist Law is the Path of Peace (Santimagga), being deeply associated with the attitude of reconciliation (maitri) and solidarity, which is fundamental to be able to learn with equanimity, overcoming conflicts and never causing harm to others. This allows the individual to become a peace champion (santi-raja) that is someone who is empty of selfishness, dualism and consumerism, being free from attachments and determinations of the materialistic civilization. In this way, the Maitriyana or Path of Peace (Santimagga) is actually a harmonious lifestyle (samma-cariya) in which the subject learns to be a peaceful force of love, evolution and Awakening (Bodhi) toward all beings, instead of being attached to the Ego, the Ideology and the State. This obviously implies denouncing the contemporary civilization as a system of domination and exploitation for both the poor and the Nature. The practice of the Free and Enlightened Beings (Arhats-Bodhisattvas) is an absolute defense of peace (santi) in mind, in society and in the planet, because its action is a permanent revolution of contemplation (dhyana), compassionate wisdom (karuna-prajña) and ethics (sila) around the world. These practices are the true way of contributing to the righteous and adequate peace (samma-santi), by performing non-violent humanitarian actions and transcendental values that transform and evolve the human life. (…) In order to solve global problems at a political, economic, cultural and environmental level, humankind must ethically transform its consciousness, by following a harmonious lifestyle (samma-cariya) of peace, justice, knowledge and health. In conclusion, the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights has the Purpose (Dharma) to defend True Peace in the world, which implies criticizing and correcting those organizations that promote a false vision of peace (santi). (…) Undoubtedly, the international organizations should be working together in the creation and maintenance of a pacifist civilization. But without ethical and spiritual guidance the organizations become corrupt, associating themselves with a degenerating vision of what is peace. Only by practicing the Path of Peace (Santimagga) taught by Master Gautama and other Awakened Beings (Buddhas) of history, the international organizations will be able to develop Peace (Santi) as a way to save humanity. (…) When international organizations are guided by the Ethical Power of human rights and Buddhist Spirituality, then they become operators of transformation and evolution of the world.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s