Religion & Refugees


In Homage to Buddha, a Splash of Freedom

City Section, The New York Times, June 2007
GREAT KILLS HARBOR, STATEN ISLAND — As the sun set on Staten Island’s south shore, a Tibetan Buddhist named Gyatso carried a crate of live shellfish down to the harbor. Squatting on a rock, his sneakers perilously close to the water, he submerged the crate, and then tossed the marine snails, one by one, into the sea. As he did so, he murmured the words “Om mani padme hum,” the mantra of compassion, for liberation from all negative karmas. “The best news,” Gyatso said of the snails, “is that they are saved from the frying pan.”
Full article and photographs here.
Click Here To Listen (recorded June 2007 in Staten Island, NY and aired on Columbia’s Uptown Radio)

Sikh Case Extends Religious Sanctuary Beyond the Church
News 21, July 2007
ABBOTSFORD, BRITISH COLUMBIA — In a case that tests the tradition of sanctuary, a paralyzed man faced with a deportation order has taken refuge in a Sikh temple in this western Canadian city. In early July, just two days before Laibar Singh, 48, was to be accompanied by Canadian officials to a hospital in India, he moved into the residence of a Sikh priest on the property of the Gurdwara Kalgidhar Darbar Sahib Society. This is the first time a Sikh temple has become a place of sanctuary in Canada. In the past, Christian churches have served as refuges for individuals avoiding deportation.
Full article and photographs here.

Holy Man on a Mission
News 21, July 2007
VARANASI, INDIA – The Ganges River runs from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, making it one of the world’s longest rivers. It is also one of the most polluted. One scientist, who is also a holy man, believes that his life’s mission is to cleanse the river. Click here for audio piece.

Sanctuary: Old Idea, New Movement
News 21, July 2007

New York, NY – Last August, Elvira Arellano moved into a Chicago church in order to avoid a deportation order that would separate her from her 7-year-old American son. Almost a year later, she’s still living in the church. Eight other undocumented immigrants have since followed Arellano’s lead and sought refuge in religious institutions across the country. Their supporters say that such acts of civil disobedience represent a new branch of religious advocacy, called The New Sanctuary Movement. Click here for full article.

Child Soldier Pens Warning to African Armies
Columbia University’s Uptown Radio, Spring 2007
At 15, Sierra Leone native Ishmael Beah’s family was killed. Armed with an AK-47, he joined in the country’s civil war. Tania Haas reports that child soldiers, like Beah, may take years to recover. Click Here to Listen