At least five people have been killed in fighting between Buddhists and Muslims in the city of Meiktila, in central Burma. The New York Times reports that a mob of Buddhists, including monks, led a rampage through a Muslim neighborhood on Thursday, apparently to retaliate for the death of a monk the day before. A hospital official said children were among those killed. Read More
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In a joint statement with lawmakers and ethnic leaders, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has called on the Burmese government to send troops to the violence-stricken Rakhine State to bring peace to the area. She also asked for a statement from the newly elected government regarding its policies toward the Rohingya Muslims and a review of the country’s strict citizenship laws. The majority of Rohingya Muslims in Burma are technically refugees.
You can read the full article from David Eimer at the Telegraph.
The Independent reports that Buddhist monks in Burma are urging people not to associate with Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state in the west of the country, and are trying to block humanitarian aid from reaching the Rohingya community. The news comes after weeks of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine that have left at least 80 people dead and displaced tens of thousands. Read More »
Nobel Peace Prize laureates Aung San Suu Kyi and HH the Dalai Lama, together at the 17th Annual Forum 2000 conference in Prague this week, have both weighed in on the recent violence in Burma by Buddhists — stoked by some monks’ nationalist rhetoric — against ethnic Rohingya Muslims.
Agence France-Presse reports that in answering a question at a post-Forum press conference, the Dalai Lama said, “Those Burmese monks, please, when they develop some kind of anger towards Muslim brothers and sisters, please, remember the Buddhist faith. I am sure…that would protect those Muslim brothers and sisters who are becoming victims.”
Suu Kyi addressed the issue in a more circumspect way prior to the conference. She stated that the country needed fundamental revisions to its constitution, and that “we need rule of law in order that our people may feel secure, and only secure people can talk to one another and try to establish the kind of relationship that will assure harmony for the future of our nation.”
Via Thomas Fuller of the New York Times today: “The secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, warned the Myanmar government on Wednesday of ‘dangerous polarization’ between Buddhists and Muslims and urged the leaders of the Buddhist-majority country to resolve the question of citizenship for the nearly one million stateless Muslims near the border with Bangladesh.”
Read Fuller’s full story here.
By Hozan Alan Senauke of the Clear View Project
Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world; by non-hatred only is hatred appeased. This is an unending truth. — Dhammapada, 5
Religious and ethnic confrontation in Burma challenge cherished ideas of Buddhism and religious tolerance. This week, two days of violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Lashio — the largest town in Burma’s Shan State, near the Chinese border — have left a mosque, an orphanage, and many shops destroyed by Buddhist-identified mobs roaming the streets on motorcycles. Three hundred Muslims have taken refuge in a local Buddhist temple, thousands have fled, and the count of dead and injured is still not clear. Read More »
Speaking to an audience of 15,000 at the University of Maryland on Tuesday, the Dalai Lama spoke out against religiously motivated attacks against Muslims in Burma and Sri Lanka. Over the past year, violent clashes between Buddhists and Muslims have killed hundreds and displaced over 100,000 people, with some Buddhist monks inciting and participating in the attacks. In Sri Lanka, Buddhists have recently attacked Muslim-owned businesses.
Killing in the name of religion, His Holiness said, is “really very sad, unthinkable.” He said he sometimes counsels Buddhists to think of the face of the Buddha when they feel any negative emotions toward Muslims. Read the full story in the Washington Post.
His Holiness is continuing his US tour throughout May, with stops scheduled in Oregon, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Kentucky. Click here for his full tour schedule.
In response to ongoing sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine state, several prominent Buddhist teachers — including Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfield, Bhikkhu Bodhi, and Norman Fischer, among others — have signed their names to a message that will appear in Burmese newspapers this week. The letter urges Burmese Buddhists to practice non-harming, compassion, and mutual respect toward Muslims.
“Buddhist teaching is based on the precepts of refraining from killing and causing harm,” the letter says in part. “Buddhist teaching is based on compassion and mutual care. Buddhist teaching offers respect to all, regardless of class, caste, race or creed.” You can read the rest of the letter here: Read More »
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. Read More »
Nearly 60 people have been killed in the latest series of clashes between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Burma. The violence broke out over the weekend and has spread to several towns, including the commercially important Kyaukpyu. How many homes and other buildings have been destroyed is unclear, but Reuters reports that the number is in the hundreds. Security forces are in Rakhine, trying to stop the unrest and imposing curfews in some towns. Read More »
American Buddhist and Muslim leaders have issued a joint statement condemning recent violence between the two religious communities in Myanmar. The letter, written by William Aiken of Soka Gakkai International and signed by several other representatives of Buddhist and Muslim groups, condemns the recent sectarian clashes between the Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Burma, which have killed more than 80 people and displaced thousands more since June. Read More »
Writing in Foreign Policy, William McGowan reflects this week on what he terms “Burma’s Buddhist chauvinism.” In discussing the plight of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority in the Rakhine state, McGowan sees “a nationalistic and at times hateful side” of Buddhism there. You can read the entire piece here.
In addition, the Bangkok Post‘s Assistant Editor, Sanitsuda Ekachai, offers an even more strongly worded editorial, “This is Racism, Not Buddhism.” The opinion focuses on the disparity between Buddhist teachings and Burmese monks’ leadership in anti-Rohingya demonstrations. Read More »
Voice of America reports today that two staff members with the United Nations and one United Nations partner have been sentenced to prison terms in Burma for their alleged involvement in the violence between Muslims and Buddhists in the Rakhine state. According to CNN, one is from the UN refugee agency, one is from the UN food program, and one is from a nongovernmental organization that works with the refugee agency.
Aye Win, a UN spokesperson in Burma, said the sentences were handed down on Friday, although the UN was never notified of the trial and the accused were denied legal counsel. Read More »