International Network of Engaged Buddhists issues statement on violence in Burma’s Rakhine state

At its Executive and Advisory Board meeting this month, the International Network of Engaged Buddhists ratified a statement condemning ongoing violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine state, and calling for the Burmese government and religious leaders to work toward a resolution.

“We hope that it expresses the concerns of Buddhists around the world who are witness to the communal conflict and violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state,” said Hozan Alan Senauke. “Clearly this conflict must be resolved by the Burmese peoples themselves, but this statement affirms that INEB and Buddhists everywhere care about the well-being of Burma’s emerging democracy and of all its peoples. We send our encouragement and faith in the Buddha’s great way.”

Read the statement after the jump.

Conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State: A Statement from the International Network of Engaged Buddhists

Since June 2012, violence between communities of Rohingyas and Rakhines in Rakhine State has resulted in hundreds of dead and wounded, thousands of homes and shops razed, and more than 75,000 displaced and impoverished.

The roots of this conflict are hard to untangle. They go back at least decades to the period of British colonial occupation. But current hostility also speaks to a scarcity of land and economic resources that manifests as communal hostility. Undoubtedly there has been violence and provocation on both sides. We commit ourselves to open-minded investigation of the past and present sources of this violence.

Although some Rohingyas have lived in Myanmar for generations, if not for several hundred years, the former military regime’s 1982 law excluded them from among the nation’s many recognized ethnicities, denying the Rohingyas citizenship and basic rights. As they are driven from their homes, neighboring Bangladesh prohibits the entry of them as refugees, and also denies citizenship to Rohingyas presently living within its own borders. It is not surprising that the United Nations views the Rohingyas as “one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.”

We feel for the families of all sides of this conflict, and have compassion for the people of Myanmar who are suffering and trying their best to resolve this issue.

We call for the government of Myanmar, and the leaders of the Buddhist Sangha and other religious leaders, to play an active and nonviolent role in resolving the conflict in Rakhine state. Central to this is to grant humanitarian assistance and work towards tolerance and respect for all of Myanmar’s diverse inhabitants. We also call on Buddhist monks across Myanmar to set aside fear and the delusive religious discrimination; to honor the Buddha’s role and example by being peacemakers for all people. May all beings — Buddhist, Muslim, Eastern, Western — and all peoples of Myanmar recall the Buddha’s vital message:

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world; by non-hatred only is
hatred appeased. This is an unending truth. — Dhammapada, 5

Adopted and ratified at the annual INEB Executive and Advisory Board Meeting, November 8-9, 2012 at the Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship in Yokohama, Japan.