Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

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Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Anagarika » Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:49 pm

An interesting article in this season's issue of Tricycle on the plight of the Rohingya people living in a sector of Burma.

http://www.tricycle.com/feature/buddhis ... lism-burma" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I haven't studied the issue carefully, nor have I visited Burma to get an on the ground sense of what is occurring. Violence seems to be ongoing on both sides, between the Muslim Rohingya people and the Buddhist Burmese.

One thing that does seem to be clear is that Burmese monks have been part of the virulent parade of anti-Rohingya sentiment, fueling further violence against men,women and children. This crisis was an opportunity for the Burmese monastics to take a Dhammic stand against violence, and illustrate for the world what Metta and Karuna means in he face of a very difficult political and ethnic issue. Instead, it appears that some monks have violated precepts and encouraged violence against the Rohingya.

I'm not assessing blame: violence by the Rohingya against the Burmese is to be disdained on a par with violence against the Rohingya. Still, it is shocking to see the Bhikkhus in the streets carrying signs threatening genocidal violence against the Rohingya. I would have hoped for a far better response to this difficult issue from the monks. Their behavior is appalling.
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby SDC » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:01 am


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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Dmytro » Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:37 am

Hi BuddhaSoup,

BuddhaSoup wrote:Still, it is shocking to see the Bhikkhus in the streets carrying sings threatening genocidal violence against the Rohingya.


If you want to know the real concerns of the Bhikkhus regarding this conflict, I would advise you to read Myanmar independent news sources:

http://www.irrawaddy.org/archives/13085
http://www.irrawaddy.org/archives/11004
http://moemaka.org/index.php?option=com ... Itemid=309
http://www.mizzima.com/edop/opinion/768 ... burma.html

All the Western media reports I've seen demonstrate anti-Myanmar and sometimes even anti-Buddhist bias in highlighting the events.

The description of recent ethnic violence in Assam, which also neighbours with Bangladesh, helps to gain the overall perspective:

http://www.ibtimes.com/rioting-assam-un ... dia-730144

The similar conflicts in Assam show that conflict is largely fueled by a steady stream of immigrants from impoverished Bangladesh.

Aung San Suu Kyi proposes a very sensible action plan:

http://www.irrawaddy.org/archives/18996

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Anagarika » Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:08 pm

If you want to know the real concerns of the Bhikkhus regarding this conflict, I would advise you to read Myanmar independent news sources:


Dmytro, I'm not suggesting that the Bhikkhus don't have real concerns. I am quite sure that they and their community have been harmed by the violence. My point in all of this is that I expected a different reaction from the Bhikkhus, certainly more that the photos I've seen of monks demanding the elimination of the Rohingya from Burma. The Rohingya may in fact be stateless, and they may be committing crimes of violence in Assam as well. I simply expect a higher (highest) standard from Bhikkhus in addressing issues of violence and genocide.

As I said, I'm not there, and have only a 'Will Rogers' view of this issue. I'd like to see a leading Burmese Bhikkhu take a public stand against the violence from all sides. If anyone has seen such a proclamation, I'd welcome it, and consider that Bhikkhu a hero.

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Paribbajaka » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:25 pm

Dmytro wrote:All the Western media reports I've seen demonstrate anti-Myanmar and sometimes even anti-Buddhist bias in highlighting the events.


I am friends with many Bhikkhus on facebook. Every day I see several of them post "
say no to halaal" propaganda and racist cartoons. How does bias explain this? I am a strong supporter of the Sangha but I think that this stance also includes being honest when members of it are being unskillful.
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Dmytro » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:43 am

Hi Paribbajaka,

Paribbajaka wrote:I am friends with many Bhikkhus on facebook. Every day I see several of them post "
say no to halaal" propaganda and racist cartoons. How does bias explain this? I am a strong supporter of the Sangha but I think that this stance also includes being honest when members of it are being unskillful.


Bias is an art of highlighting certain aspects and ignoring other aspects. There's a reason why the particular demonstration of the group of monks in Mandalay has been selected as newsworthy by the media.

Have you seen any Western media report acknowledging the efforts of Myanmar government and Bhikkhus in dealing with the conflict and its consequences?

I have seen the anti-Muslim postings of some Sri Lankan monks. Does this deserve much attention? Won't it be better to ignore such monks and attend instead to wise ones?

As Manas wrote:

manas wrote:There's a good reason why the Mainstream Media all sound much the same, and seem to be pushing the same underlying agenda:

The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists. Many newspapers and broadcasters outside the United States are AP subscribers, paying a fee to use AP material without being contributing members of the cooperative.As of 2005, the news collected by the AP is published and republished by more than 1,700 newspapers, in addition to more than 5,001 television and radio broadcasters. The photograph library of the AP consists of over 10 million images. The Associated Press operates 243 news bureaus, and it serves at least 120 countries, with an international staff located all over the world.


If you live in a modern 'Western' democracy, next time you read the paper, take a look at the bottom for the source of almost every single news report, regardless of the particular newspaper or it's parent company: it will say either AP or Reuters. And so, when I read or listen to MSM (Mainstream Media) I always ask, why have they selected this as newsworthy? How does it make me feel? Angry or sad? (two common reactions). How does this report compare with previous reports on the same issue? etc etc. I find there is usually a reason for what they print. Like a steady 'drip, drip' they gently guide and mold what the masses think, without them even knowing it. Thus I hear quite similar views from many well-intentioned but simple folk in my local area, and I can trace much of their world-view from a particularly low-grade tabloid we have here in Melbourne (yes, it's a Murdoch paper). The amazing thing is, the people whose opinions have been moulded in such a way think that they themselves independently arrived at their views; they don't see how they have been manipulated.

So as has been pointed out here previously, I would be asking who is reporting on these massacres, and what their underlying agenda might be in reporting it - and keeping that generous handful of salt near at hand.


viewtopic.php?f=14&t=13420&start=40#p202480

To develop friendliness and goodwill, one needs to see the best qualities of the person, even when there are few.
This can become the platform from which the person will change to the better.

'He insulted me, hit me, beat me, robbed me' — for those who brood on this, hostility isn't stilled. 'He insulted me, hit me, beat me, robbed me' — for those who don't brood on this, hostility is stilled. Hostilities aren't stilled through hostility, regardless. Hostilities are stilled through non-hostility: this, an unending truth. Unlike those who don't realize that we're here on the verge of perishing, those who do: their quarrels are stilled.

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"And as for a person who is impure in his bodily behavior & verbal behavior, but who periodically experiences mental clarity & calm, how should one subdue hatred for him? Just as when there is a little puddle in a cow's footprint, and a person comes along, burning with heat, covered with sweat, exhausted, trembling, & thirsty. The thought would occur to him, 'Here is this little puddle in a cow's footprint. If I tried to drink the water using my hand or cup, I would disturb it, stir it up, & make it unfit to drink. What if I were to get down on all fours and slurp it up like a cow, and then go on my way?' So he would get down on all fours, slurp up the water like a cow, and then go on his way. In the same way, when an individual is impure in his bodily behavior & verbal behavior, but periodically experiences mental clarity & calm, one should at that time pay no attention to the impurity of his bodily behavior...the impurity of his verbal behavior, and instead pay attention to the fact that he periodically experiences mental clarity & calm. Thus the hatred for him should be subdued.

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Paribbajaka » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:55 pm

I agree that focussing on a persons positive qualities is more constructive, as is focussing on wise monks. This does not change the fact that there are monks currently spreading and inflaming prejudice.
We shouldn't focus on it, but I think downplaying it or when it is discussed acting as though it is a misinterpretation is not the right choice either. Until problems are honestly faced and assessed, they can't be solved. :anjali:
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Anagarika » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:53 am

Paribbajaka wrote:I agree that focussing on a persons positive qualities is more constructive, as is focussing on wise monks. This does not change the fact that there are monks currently spreading and inflaming prejudice.
We shouldn't focus on it, but I think downplaying it or when it is discussed acting as though it is a misinterpretation is not the right choice either. Until problems are honestly faced and assessed, they can't be solved. :anjali:

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby householder » Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:57 am

Kicking off again, this time in Meiktila near Mandalay...

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Dmytro » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:42 pm

Hi Householder,

Evidently you are talking about this clash: http://www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burm ... ktila.html

Numerous monks participated as well in various protests, e.g. Letpadaung copper mine protest .

I searched for a first-person explanation from a monk, and came up with:

"Several years ago, I interviewed Ashin Sopaka when he was in Thailand, having left Myanmar in 2003. The premise for his political activism, he said, lies in Buddhist doctrine that explicitly calls for the alleviation of human suffering: "If the people are suffering, then we have a responsibility - of course it [the suffering] is because of the political situation… [and] the political situation is connected to everything." While the government then attempted to slander protesting monks as heretics, many among the clergy consider activism as a natural obligation borne of Buddhist doctrine.
This was manifested in 2007 when monks organised to boycott religious duties for the generals, symbolised by the thousands who marched with their alms' bowls upturned. The act deeply unsettled the country's rulers, who are known for their almost paranoiac devotion to higher powers - the refusal to grant them and their colleagues merit, a cornerstone of Buddhist practice, had a tangible effect, with numbers of government workers who were effectively excommunicated during the uprising choosing to resign rather than continue to carry the stigma of being associated with the junta at that time."

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinio ... 63504.html

Seems that since 2007 some part of the monks is intent to be politically and socially active, much like the "Bodu Bala Sena", or Buddhist Force, and The National Heritage Party (Jathika Hela Urumaya) in Sri Lanka, with all the consequences that ensue.

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby householder » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:20 pm

Yes - unconfirmed reports on the latest incident involve an extremist 'Buddhist' group that allegedly instigated yesterday's events, spurred on by a sayadaw preaching anti-Islamic rhetoric.

EDIT: Allegedly now spread to parts of Rakhine state (again) and Dala township in Yangon. Since I leave in a majority-Muslim township, I'm naturally concerned...

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Mr Man » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:03 pm

Stay safe Householder.

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:54 am

Another report on the Anti-Muslim violence in Meikthila form the BBC.

If I recall correctly, Meikthila is the hot and dry region in Middle Burma. I don't understand how monks can be fomenting or involved in this violence. They must be very poorly educated monks.
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Kusala » Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:04 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:An interesting article in this season's issue of Tricycle on the plight of the Rohingya people living in a sector of Burma.

http://www.tricycle.com/feature/buddhis ... lism-burma" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I haven't studied the issue carefully, nor have I visited Burma to get an on the ground sense of what is occurring. Violence seems to be ongoing on both sides, between the Muslim Rohingya people and the Buddhist Burmese.

One thing that does seem to be clear is that Burmese monks have been part of the virulent parade of anti-Rohingya sentiment, fueling further violence against men,women and children. This crisis was an opportunity for the Burmese monastics to take a Dhammic stand against violence, and illustrate for the world what Metta and Karuna means in he face of a very difficult political an ethnic issue. Instead, it appears that some monks have violated precepts and encouraged violence against the Rohingya.

I'm not assessing blame: violence by the Rohingya against the Burmese is to be disdained on a par with violence against the Rohinhya. Still, it is shocking to see the Bhikkhus in the streets carrying sings threatening genocidal violence against the Rohingya. I would have hoped for a far better response to this difficult issue from the monks. Their behavior is appalling.


Ajahn Brahm recently spoke out against all the violence that has been going on in Burma and Sri Lanka. Hopefully, some of these monks take heed...
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:31 pm

I'm not a huge fan of the Dalai Lama, but I do appreciate the strong statements he made in recent days against the violence in Burma. Details here:

http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetai ... Lama-.html

He specifically criticized U Wirathu, the anti-Muslim monk who has been nicknamed "the Buddhist Bin Laden".

I've noticed, however, that although various Buddhist luminaries have issued statements and signed declarations, most of them seem to be Vajrayana or Mahayana -- or, if Theravada, they are Westerners (e.g. Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Brahm) and associated with the Thai Forest Tradition.

Are there any influential Burmese clerics, teachers or scholars who have spoken out against the killings, mayhem and "ethnic cleansing"?

By the way, if you want to see U Wiratha's version of events, there is an interview here. I read it and was not impressed. He comes across to me as one-sided and dishonest, a typical opportunist seeking to exploit tensions in order to boost his prestige and political clout.

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Alex123 » Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:31 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Are there any influential Burmese clerics, teachers or scholars who have spoken out against the killings, mayhem and "ethnic cleansing"?


I don't know. Is it possible that there are Burmese monks who are against these things, but who do not speak English, so that we (who do not know Burmese) do not get to hear them in English?
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:36 am

Alex123 wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Are there any influential Burmese clerics, teachers or scholars who have spoken out against the killings, mayhem and "ethnic cleansing"?


I don't know. Is it possible that there are Burmese monks who are against these things, but who do not speak English, so that we (who do not know Burmese) do not get to hear them in English?


Yes, I could see language and communication barriers being an issue. Still, I'd think there would be some influential figures who could comment. Many Westerners have gone to Burma to study with great masters, some of whom have visited the West. At the very least, this would be an occasion to reiterate the Buddha's teachings on the subject of violence and anger, and to provide guidance on what the dhamma does and doesn't condone.

This isn't really the kind of situation where saying and doing nothing is appropriate. It doesn't have to be framed in a divisive or strident way.

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby Dan74 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:49 am

Yes of course. It was in the reports too. It is certainly not the entire Burmese Sangha but a small group from what I gather. But that's all it takes...

Here's one quote:

"He sides a little towards hate," said Abbot Arriya Wuttha Bewuntha of Mandalay's Myawaddy Sayadaw monastery. "This is not the way Buddha taught. What the Buddha taught is that hatred is not good, because Buddha sees everyone as an equal being. The Buddha doesn't see people through religion."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/18/buddhist-monk-spreads-hatred-burma
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby householder » Wed May 01, 2013 5:47 pm

Kicked off yet again yesterday and tonight. Plenty of reports of local monks trying to calm things. The release of the government's previously secret 'commission' reports (here, when there's an issue, the government forms a commission) doesn't inspire much hope that anything will change anytime soon, and may well get worse. Still, the spice must flow...

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Postby binocular » Wed May 01, 2013 6:50 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:I'm not assessing blame: violence by the Rohingya against the Burmese is to be disdained on a par with violence against the Rohinhya. Still, it is shocking to see the Bhikkhus in the streets carrying sings threatening genocidal violence against the Rohingya. I would have hoped for a far better response to this difficult issue from the monks. Their behavior is appalling.


But what should those monks do?
Sit there and watch as people are being harmed? Spread thoughts of goodwill to everyone?

I'm asking this seriously.


Given the ways of samsara, it seems inevitable that there comes a point where one has to defend one's religion even with violent means.
I doubt those monks want to cause harm; it just appears that the situation has progressed to the point where, for worldly intents and purposes, nothing except violent means can hope to resolve it.
Worldly intents and purposes cannot be ignored.


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