August 27, 2018

More than a thousand Buddhist leaders, teachers and practitioners from 45 countries have signed an international appeal to the governing body of all Buddhist monastics in Myanmar.

 

The appeal calls on the monastic leadership to take a strong stand against hate speech and the extreme violence that has been unleashed against the Rohingya.

 

The appeal states:

 

We view the continuing systematic violence and abuse directed against hundreds of thousands of our Muslim sisters and brothers in Myanmar’s Rakhine state with the deepest concern.

 

In the many burned-out towns and villages of Rakhine state, they have endured murder, beatings, starvation, disease, rape, and now exile—with their homes being systematically torched behind them.

 

We are greatly disturbed by slander and distortion of the Buddha’s teachings. In the Buddha’s teachings there is no justification for hatred and violence. Mean-spirited words and direct provocation stand in stark contradiction to monastic precepts and Buddha’s teachings on universal morality, peace, and tolerance.

 

The appeal calls on the Buddhist monastic leadership to take a strong stand against the hatred and violence towards the Rohingya people.

 

It calls on the government and military of Myanmar, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, to protect the vulnerable communities of all religions and ethnicities in the country.

 

It calls on the member nations of the UN to use all peaceful means at their disposal:

 

  • to promote a peaceful resolution of ethnic tensions in the country;
  • to see that the survival and safety of the Rohingya is ensured; and
  • to take steps to provide them with full rights as citizens of Myanmar.

 

This appeal has been launched by the Buddhist Humanitarian Project which is collecting signatures online around the world as well as collecting donations for desperately needed humanitarian aid to the Rohingya refugees.

 

We send our heartfelt greetings to today’s gathering. We invite you to contemplate, with us, the words of one of the most central of all Buddhist teachings. This is known as the Sutra on Loving Kindness.

 

One of it’s most famous passages states:

 

Even as a mother watches over and protects her child, her only child, so with a boundless mind should one cherish all living beings, radiating friendliness over the entire world, above, below and all around without limit.

 

These are the same words that were chanted by thousands of Buddhist monks in Myanmar during the Saffron Revolution which was part of the political change that took place in the country in 2007.

 

It is these same words that inspire courageous Buddhists inside Myanmar who are working to restrain the tide of hatred today. They are cooperating with other faith leaders. They are intervening to stop outbreaks of violence. They are opening their temples to people of all communities fleeing attack. They are running educational programs on tolerance and non-violence.

 

Some are taking great risks.

 

They need to know we are with them. Let us do that by raising our voices wherever we are, offering generous support to the victims, and calling on our elected representatives to support every effort for justice and peace.

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