As we reported yesterday, violence has broken out between Buddhists and Muslims in the city of Meiktili, central Burma. The fighting has now spread to neighboring villages, and the death toll is estimated to be at least 20. The New York Times has the full story.
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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 »
Government officials in Tehran are apparently confiscating Buddha statues from stores to stop the spread of Buddhism in Iran. An official for the protection of cultural heritage has labeled them “a cultural invasion” and said that authorities wouldn’t let a belief be promoted through the items.
A Tehran shopkeeper says customers who buy the statues don’t seem to be interested in Buddhism and just want them to decorate their homes. Read More »
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 »
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.
Meet Ven. Miao Hong — First Buddhist appointee to the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
By Danny Fisher
As we head toward the US elections on Tuesday, one of the accomplishments that President Barack Obama can claim (whether he keeps his job or not) is the historic first-ever appointment of a Buddhist to the President’s Advisory Council of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships: Venerable Miao Hong Hsiangju Liu, the Humanitarian Project Liaison for both the International Buddhist Progress Society (IBPS) and Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) in the United States and Australia, and the BLIA representative to the United Nations. 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 »
Bangladeshi Buddhists who were displaced by rioting and violence on Saturday have started returning to their homes as Bangladesh’s government promised to protect them. Soldiers and police have been deployed to the districts of Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong, near the Burmese border, and the government has banned public gatherings in the area. Security officials say they’ve detained 166 people in connection with the riots. Read More »
In Bangladesh, Buddhist temples and homes have been attacked in a wave of arson and violence perpetuated by area Muslims angered by what is said to be an image of a burning Quran. A young Buddhist local is responsible for the image, they say, having posted it on Facebook.
The Associated Press has a report (via HuffPost.)
By Danny Fisher
Last week, I had the great honor and pleasure of attending Amnesty International’s town hall event with Burma’s Nobel Peace laureate and engaged Buddhist icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Held at the Newseum in Washington, DC, and moderated by MSNBC’s Alex Wagner, the event came only a day after “Daw Suu” met with President Barack Obama and received the US Congress’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.
Suu Kyi is the leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy and currently sits in the lower house of the country’s parliament. Her election came after she had spent 15 of the 21 years between 1989 and 2010 under house arrest. During that time, she became the symbol for Burma’s struggle for democracy and freedom from the repressive ruling junta. In addition, she became the world’s most recognized prisoner of conscience during that time — thanks not only to her Nobel Prize and the international media, but also to the efforts of Amnesty International. The town hall, then, celebrated a special relationship between guest and host. 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 »