Statement: Myanmar’s Buddhist Leaders Must Take a Stand Against Ethnic Cleansing

In a public address on September 19, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, saying she is “deeply concerned” about those caught in the conflict, but Myanmar’s government needs time to investigate “what the real problems are” in Rakhine state.

With hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing their homes in Myanmar, more than 110 Buddhist teachers and community leaders have signed a letter calling on Myanmar’s Buddhist leaders take action to end the crisis.


 

To: Chairman Bamaw Sayadaw Dr. Ashwin Kumara Bhivamsa
State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee (Ma Ha Na)
Thiri Mingalar Kabar Aye Hill,
Yangon, Myanmar
15 September 2017

Dear Chairman, venerable monks, elders, and respected leaders,

We write to you with metta as Buddhist teachers and practitioners representing millions of Buddhists in our communities in the West and across the world — monastics, ordained, and lay people from Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana traditions.

We view the systematic violence and abuse directed against hundreds of thousands of our Muslim sisters and brothers in Myanmar’s Rakhine state with the deepest concern. Reports by reputable human rights and news organizations document that more than 350,000 Rohingya people have been driven over borders and into the seas at the height of the monsoon season, seeking refuge in Bangladesh, India, and elsewhere.

We are greatly disturbed by what many in the world see as slander and distortion of the Buddha’s teachings. In the Dhamma there is no justification for hatred and violence.

Reliable sources report that in the 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. Unlike past repressions of Rohingyas, now the world is watching in shame and compassion. That shame belongs to the nation of Myanmar, to nationalist monks fomenting violence and hate speech, to the Myanmar military and its brutal policies of ethnic cleansing, and to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whose silence and equivocation betray the hopes she earlier offered for a unified Myanmar in which all communities might live together in harmony.

We are greatly disturbed by what many in the world see as slander and distortion of the Buddha’s teachings. In the Dhamma there is no justification for hatred and violence. Mean-spirited words and direct provocation led by Ma Ba Tha monks (the Buddha Dhamma Parahita Foundation, formerly known as the Organization for the Protection of Race and Religion) stand in stark contradiction to monastic precepts and Buddha’s teachings on universal morality, peace, and tolerance.

  • Therefore, we call on the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee to uphold Buddhism by further enforcing its recent rulings against Ma Ba Tha, taking a strong stand against hate speech and ethnic cleansing.
  • We call on the government and military of Myanmar, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, to apply their full resources in support of peace and for the protection of vulnerable communities of all religions and ethnicities.
  • We call on member nations of the U.N. and the U.S. State Department 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 Rohingyas is ensured; and to ensure that steps are taken to provide them with full rights as citizens of Myanmar.
  • We call on Buddhist friends around the world to make our concerns known to all parties in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and to give generously to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other international humanitarian organizations providing aid to Rohingya communities. As Buddhists, we are channeling funds through the UNHCR. Our dana can say to Rohingya peoples and to the world that the rain of Buddha’s compassion falls on all beings equally.

Sincerely, in hope of peace and love of Dhamma,

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist Global Relief
Jack Kornfield, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Tergar Meditation Community
Pema Chödrön, Gampo Abbey, Nova Scotia, Canada
Joseph Goldstein, Insight Meditation Society, MA
Dhammachari Lokamitra, Triratna Bauddha Mahasangha, India
Phra Paisal Visalo, Abbot, Wat Pasukato, Chaiyaphum, Thailand
Rev. Hozan Alan Senauke, Clear View Project
Rev. Ronald Kobata, Buddhist Church of San Francisco, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha
Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Guiding Teacher, new Dharma Community
David R. Loy, Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center
Ajahn Sucitto, Cittaviveka Monastery, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Santikaro Upasaka, Liberation Park, Norwalk, WI
Jill Jameson, Advisory Committee, International Network of Engaged Buddhists
Mushim Patricia Ikeda, Core teacher, East Bay Meditation Center, CA
Katie Loncke, Co-Director, Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Dawn Haney, Co-Director, Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Rev. Acharya Fleet Maull, Prison Dharma Network
Pascal Auclair, True North Insight Meditation Centre, Canada
Revs. Chozen Bays & Hogen Bays, Abbots, Great Vow Zen Monastery, Clatskanie, OR
Rev. Enkyo Pat O’Hara, Village Zendo, New York, NY
Rev. Linda Ruth Cutts, Central Abbess, San Francisco Zen Center
Rev. Furyu Schroeder, Abbess, Green Dragon Zen Temple, CA
Rev James Myoun Ford, Blue Cliff Zen Sangha, Long Beach, CA
Rev. Josh Jiun Bartok, Abbot, Greater Boston Zen Center
Rev. Edward Keido Sanshin Oberholtzer, Boundless Way Zen, Lewisburg, PA
Rev. Melissa Myozen Blacker, Abbot, Boundless Way Zen, MA
Michael Fieleke, Dharma Holder, Boundless Way Zen
Rev. David Dae An Rynick, Guiding Teacher, Boundless Way Zen, MA
Kenneth Kraft, emeritus professor, Lehigh University.
Rev. Joshin Brian Byrnes, Upaya Zen Center, NM
Rev. Koun Franz, Zen Nova Scotia
Rev Inryu Bobbi Ponce-Barger, All Beings Zen Sangha, Washington D.C.
Jack Lawlor/True Direction, Lakeside Buddhist sangha, Evanston, IL
Kristin Barker, Director and Co-Founder, One Earth Sangha
Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, Abbot, Zen Center of Los Angeles
Rev. Dr. Douglas San-un Phillips, Empty Sky Sangha, W. Cornwall, CT
Rev. Jay Rinsen Weik, Abbot, Great Heartland Sangha, Buddhist Temple of Toledo
Rev. Dr. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, President, Buddhist Council of New York
Ajahn Punnadhammo, Abbott, Arrow River Forest Hermitage, Thunder Bay, Canada
Dosho Port, Head Priest, Nebraska Zen Center
Tara Brach, Insight Meditation Community of Washington D.C.
Wes Nisker, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
James Baraz, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Mary Grace Orr, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Diana Winston, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Mark Coleman, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Anna Douglas, PhD, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Eugene Cash, Spirit Rock Mediation Center, CA
Donald Rothberg, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Oren J. Sofer, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Carol Wilson, Insight Meditation Society, MA
Rodney Smith, Seattle Insight Meditation Society, WA
Rev. Eido Frances Carney, Abbess, Olympia Zen Center
Rev. Sumi Loundon Kim, Buddhist chaplain, Duke University
Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate, Chicago, IL
Hosho Peter Coyote, Vimala Sangha, CA
Justin Whitaker, PhD, Sīla Mindfulness, Seattle, WA
Rev. Domyo Burk, Guiding Teacher, Bright Way Zen, Portland, OR
Erin Treat, Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center & Durango Dharma Center.
Rev. Gyokei Yokoyama, Long Beach Buddhist Church, CA
John Bell, YouthBuild USA
Kenshin Catherine Cascade, Bird Haven Zendo, Cheshire, OR
Dennis Bohn/True Mountain of Peace, Order of Interbeing/Plum Village
Catherine McGee, Gaia House, Insight Meditation Centre, United Kingdom
Jill Shepherd, Auckland Insight, New Zealand
Maciej Janowicz, DSc., Warsaw University of Life Sciences, SGGW
Nikki Mirghafori, Spirit Rock Meditation Center & Insight Meditation Center
Kittisaro & Thanissara, Dharmagiri Meditation Centre & Sacred Mountain Sangha
Chris Zangtsal Starbuck, Dharmaholder, Zen Peacemaker Circles
Janet Lipner, Midwest Buddhist Temple, IL
Dr Adrianne Ross, British Columbia Insight Meditation Society, Vancouver Canada
Kenley Neufeld, Dharma Teacher, Order of Interbeing
Bernie Glassman, Founder, Zen Peacemakers, Montague, MA,
Eve Myonen Marko, Head Teacher, Green River Zen Center, Montague, MA,
Rev. Tenku Ruff, NY
Rob Burbea, Gaia House, UK
Dr Adrianne Ross, British Columbia Insight Meditation Society, Vancouver Canada
Marcia Rose, Guiding Teacher, The Mountain Hermitage, NM
David Gumpert, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, MA
Rev. Myoan Grace Schireson, Central Valley Zen, CA
Robert A. Thurman, Professor, Columbia University, NY
Sally Armstrong, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Brian Ryojun Victoria, Ph.D.Fellow, Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies
Marty Krasney—Executive Director, Dalai Lama Fellows
Chas DiCapua, Insight Meditation Society, MA
Rev. Kosen Greg Snyder, Brooklyn Zen Center & Union Theological Seminary
Greg Scharf, Insight Meditation Society, MA
Rev. Mary Mocine, Clear Water Zen Center, CA
Joyce Kornblatt, Cloud Refuge Sangha, Blackheath, NSW, Australia
Zen Master Bon Hae Judy Roitman, Kansas Zen Center, Lawrence, KS
Zen Master Hae Kwang Stan Lombardo, Kansas Zen Center, Lawrence, KS
Andrea Fella, Insight Meditation Center of the Mid-Peninsula; Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Rev. Ryuun Joriki Baker, Blue Mountain Zendo, PA
Howard Cohn, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, California
Anne Seisen Saunders, Sweetwater Zen Center, CA
Rev. Diane Shoshin Fitzgerald, Boundless Way Zen
Fran Ludwig, Dharma Teacher, Boundless Way Zen
Monika Winkelmann, Zen Peacemakers, Germany
Karen Harrison, Canadian Buddhist Civil Liberties Association
Jeff Kitzes, Guiding Teacher, Empty Gate Zen Center, Berkeley, CA
Rev. Hoka Chris Fortin, Dharma Heart Sangha, CA
Rev. Kanzan Bruce Fortin, Occidental Laguna Sangha, CA
Anka Rick Spencer, Puerto Compasivo, Puerto Vallarta, México
Rev. Zoketsu Norman Fischer—Founder and teacher Everyday Zen Foundation, CA
Ken Kessel (Zen Master Jok Um), Chogye International Zen Center of New York
Kotatsu John Bailes, One Heart Zen
Rev. Peg Syverson, Appamada, Austin, TX
Roshi Roland Wegmüller, Spiegel Sangha, Switzerland. & Zen Peacemakers
Roshi Barbara Wegmüller, Spiegel Sangha, Switzerland. & Zen Peacemakers
Rev. Genshun Dai-En Bennage, Mt. Equity Zendo, PA
Gil Fronsdal, Insight Meditation Center, Redwood City, CA
Myoko Sara Hunsaker, Monterey Bay Zen Center, CA
K V Soon, Interim Secretary, International Forum on Buddhist-Muslim Relations
Rev. Layla Smith, Mountain Source Sangha, Larkspur, CA
Frank De Waele, Teacher, Zen Sangha, Belgium

 

Cc:

Thura U Aung Ko,
Ministry for Religious Affairs and Culture,
Building no. 31,
Naypyidaw, Republic of the Union of Myanmar

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Building no. 9,
Naypyitaw, Republic of the Union of Myanmar

President Htin Kyaw
Presidential Palace, Yaza Htarni Road
Zeyatheiddhi Ward, Zabuthiri,
Naypyitaw, Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing
Ministry of Defense
Building no. 24,
Naypyitaw , Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Fillippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Case Postale 2500, CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt, Suisse.
+41-22-739-8111

Kofi Annan, Chair of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State
Kofi Annan Foundation
P.O.B. 157 | 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
+41 22 919 7520
Att: Bijan Farnoudi
farnoudi@kofiannanfoundation.org

The Honorable Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520

Ambassador Scot Marciel, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
110 University Ave, Kamayut Township,
Yangon, Republic of the Union of Myanmar
+95-1 536509

 

 Rohingya family prepares a meal by the roadside, without shelter

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