Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
householder
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by householder » Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:11 am

All this bullshit got Wirathu propelled onto the front page of TIME this month.

Meanwhile, beyond the 969-plastered teashops, taxis and businesses emanating out from Shwedagon (which, by the way, now has free WIFI that is faster than my home connection and a couple of ATMs scattered around its grounds) and which has rapidly spread throughout the country, the various leading groups of monks seem to be taking different positions on the issue. Or no position, and simply focus on their practice and remind others to do so and remind people of the brahmaviharas and the precepts, which is perhaps the most sensible option these days it seems. The alternative appears to be a drawn-out, high-profile countering of an extremely vocal and seemingly well-resourced minority which would politicise the various sangha groups even further, and there are civil society/interfaith groups that seem to be doing an admirable job on that front already.

daimond
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by daimond » Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:15 am

Myanmar monks say most oppose
anti-Muslim campaign

But at Meikhtila's Zay Yar Bun Buddhist monastery, senior monk Udamme Thara told the Sunday Morning Post: "I know more than a 1,000 Muslims fleeing from their attackers received sanctuary inside our monasteries. I am sure almost all temples provided safety and saved their lives."
The monk lamented that "until a few months ago we [Buddhists and Muslim communities] lived peacefully together".
In Yangon, other monks are organising humanitarian aid for Muslims victimised by the tide of sectarian hatred.
Ashin Issariya, a monk based in the Dhammepiye Temple and Meditation Centre in Yangon, was a leader of the "saffron revolution" of 2007, in which monks led peaceful protests against the dictatorship of that time.

Now, he said, "We are mobilising monks to aid our Muslim brothers. "Many monks and monasteries have provided aid and sanctuary to thousands of displaced Muslims in now in camps."

Ashin Issariya is part of a network of 800 monks, including at least 10 other leaders of the 2007 protests. The network sends regular truckloads of rice, clothes and other aid to the predominantly Muslim victims of the recent violence and has been promoting interfaith dialogue with
Muslim leaders.
In the most recent outbreak of attacks, more than 1,000 Muslims huddled for protection inside a Buddhist monastery in the northeastern city of Lashio in Shan
state.
http://m.scmp.com/news/asia/article/125 ... m-campaign

householder
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by householder » Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:40 am

Myanmar monks say most oppose
anti-Muslim campaign
All well and good, but ask a different set of monks and they'll say most support the anti-Muslim campaign, even if tacitly.

Anecdotally, one monk I used to regularly communicate and met with here, when prompted for his views on Meikthila back in March, spewed out some most unpleasant vitriol that seemed to be completely at odds with his many years in the robes, study, practice and what outwardly appeared to be strong saddha, and which appeared to be the current 'line' circulating in several monasteries around Yangon. I don't communicate with that monk anymore.

On the other hand, one of the street sermon sessions on my road shortly after Meitkhila was, I was reliably informed, focused on reminding followers of the principles of metta, non-violence and that this particular township has had Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Muslims co-existing for decades without any problems.

Numbers aren't precise, but I definitely don't understand the anti-Muslim sentiment to be confined to any sort of a 'tiny' minority of monks and laypeople that we can safely write off as a fringe element. This generational and institutionalised prejudice means this is in many cases hard-wired and won't be going away any time soon no matter how much these so-called reforms are lauded.

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Dan74
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Dan74 » Sun Jun 23, 2013 11:39 am

Not to excuse what is happening in any way, but one has to appreciate the power of group-think that can sweep a nation, particularly one without a strong tradition of independent thought.

I mean we have seen it in Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, Russia, Japan, etc etc

Sometimes even people exemplary in many other ways fall under its spell. So what I am saying is to practice metta not only for the victims but also for the perpetrators and the enablers.

I am wondering if anyone in Burma has mentioned Germany in early 30's...?
_/|\_

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Anagarika
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Anagarika » Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:33 pm

Dan74 wrote:Not to excuse what is happening in any way, but one has to appreciate the power of group-think that can sweep a nation, particularly one without a strong tradition of independent thought.

I mean we have seen it in Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, Russia, Japan, etc etc

Sometimes even people exemplary in many other ways fall under its spell. So what I am saying is to practice metta not only for the victims but also for the perpetrators and the enablers.

I am wondering if anyone in Burma has mentioned Germany in early 30's...?
“He sounds like Hitler,” U Htun Than, a 57-year-old Buddhist and former political candidate in Myanmar’s 1990 elections, told me bluntly after we sat through the sermon. “It will be a big problem if his group becomes stronger.”

U Kyaw Kyaw, another local politician from the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), agreed. “You heard the song: ‘We shouldn’t stay calm. If we stay calm, our race and religion will vanish.’ What is that supposed to mean? They are just agitating people. It has to stop.”

Source: http://www.irrawaddy.org/archives/38170

Roland
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Roland » Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:23 pm

Posted: 28 June 2013
Most people didn't know who the Rwandans were until it was too late, and 800,000 of them were dead. Right now, the fate of Burma's Rohingya people is hanging by a thread. Racist thugs have distributed leaflets threatening to wipe out this small Burmese minority. Already children have been hacked to death and unspeakable murders committed. All signs are pointing to a coming horror, unless we act.

Genocides happen because we don't get concerned enough until the crime is committed. The Rohingya are a peaceful and very poor people. They're hated because their skin is darker and the majority fear they’re 'taking jobs away'. There are 800,000 of them, and they could be gone if we don't act. We've failed too many peoples, let's not fail the Rohingya.

Burmese President Thein Sein can deploy forces to protect the Rohingya, all he has to do is approve a plan to do it. In days, he’ll arrive in Europe to sell his country’s new openness to trade. If EU leaders greet him with a strong request to protect the Rohingya, he’s likely to do it. Let’s get 1 million voices and images of what’s happening in Burma outside his meetings with key EU heads of state.
To Prime Minister David Cameron and President Francois Hollande:
As citizens deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in Burma, we call on you to press the Burmese President to immediately deploy government forces to protect the Rohingya when you meet with him this month. We urge you to insist he implement such plans to stop the violence as a condition of improved trading relations. You have both spoken repeatedly about the need for early action to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity -- now is the time to live up to those words. The world will be watching what you do to protect one of the most threatened ethnic groups on earth.
Burma: Stop the next Rwanda
"No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley."

--Seneca the Younger (57 BCE- 65 AD)

binocular
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by binocular » Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:48 am

From Bhikkhu Cintita:
http://bhikkhucintita.wordpress.com/201 ... lim-monks/


A lot of people ask me about reports of anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar, since I live at a Burmese monastery and they assume I might have special inside knowledge. With the appearance of a new cover story in Time magazine on this topic, let me say here what I can figure out about this.

As far as I can see the coverage in the Western press has been worse than deplorable, and at the same time violent incidents are real as is anti-Muslim sentiment in much of the Buddhist population of Myanmar. The involvement of Burmese monks is very small, yet it also does exist.

First, it is important to keep in mind that the phrases Buddhist extremist and Buddhist fundamentalist are meaningless in this context. Any expression of hatred for a group of people is simply unBuddhist. The Buddha never endorsed hatred or violence under any circumstances, ever, even in self-defense. He never condemned other faiths. There is simply nothing in Buddhism, even with the most assiduous cherry-picking, that one could be fundamentalist or extreme about and produce a justification for violence. The violence is entirely in spite of Buddhism, not because of it. Still, we are not all perfect Buddhists.

The social roots of the violence are complex. Many Burmese express surprise that the recent violence has erupted, since “Buddhists and Muslims have lived peacefully together for many years,” to quote an ethnic Mon monk I was talking to about this just today. Still I have heard derogatory comments about Muslims among Burmese since before the present violence. There are differences in the value systems of Islam and Buddhism which may are bound to make some people judgmental. For instance, Buddhists are protective of animal life so most butchers in Myanmar are Muslims. Buddhists purchase meat from the butchers, then look down on them for killing the meat.

Most of the violence has centered in Rakhain State directed against Rohingya Muslims who have immigrated from Bangladesh starting under British rule. It is hard to sort out the dynamics of this conflict, but it seems to involve immigration policy and competition for land resources in an already extremely poor population, particularly as more Rohingyas have entered Burma due to flooding in Bangladesh. It does not help that there are reports of oppression against the Buddhist minority on the Bangladeshi side of the border. Myanmar was marked by ethnic violence primarily as minorities have taken up arms against a brutal regime. Myanmar is also in a period of transition toward a more open society after years of brutal military rule. Many countries that have experienced such a transition seem to experience an abrupt bubbling up of long suppressed tensions. Yugoslavia is an example from the 90′s. In Rakhain State we find violence on both sides, generally following an old pattern of tit-for-tat, exaggerated by rumor, escalating until the majority party does something extreme.

The Western press has tended simply to ignore the social causes and attribute violence directly to Buddhist hatred of Muslims. I see this in story after story. When monks are brought into the stories it is almost always as instigators of violence. When the government is brought into the stories it is almost always as an indifferent or biased party. Rarely covered are the efforts of monks and the government to mitigate the violence or to protect the Muslim population from violence. This is more than inaccurate reporting; it contributes directly to the ignorance and rumors that lead to further violence, implicating the press itself in the violence in the next-to-worst way.

Of course any contribution of monks to hatred or violence is particularly disturbing, to Buddhists around the world, and to me personally as a monk ordained in the Burmese tradition. I know many Burmese monks, a few of which have sometimes to my alarm expressed anti-Muslim sentiments. However I have never heard one endorse violence in any way; consistently they deplore the violence, and many deplore anti-Muslim sentiment as well.

The Western press focuses repeatedly on this same monk, Ashin Wirathu, who appears on the new cover of Time magazine as the “face of Buddhist terror.” However I have never found in the Western stories anywhere where Ashin Wirathu has directly advocated violence against Muslims (let me know if you know of such a quote), rather his agenda seems to be a peaceful economic boycott against Muslim businesses. His rhetoric is clearly hateful, and he is reported for reasons I cannot make any logical sense of to call himself a Buddhist Osama bin Laden. But I don’t think this qualifies as terrorism. Incidentally, if a monk advocates an act of killing and thereby causes someone else to carry out that act, that monk has thereby just disrobed, according to the ancient monastic code. Ashin Wirathu certainly knows this.

I would like to highlight my own preceptor, Sitagu Sayadaw, as a more moderate, typical and influential monastic voice in Myanmar than Ashin Wirathu. I have never seen Sitagu Sayadaw mentioned in the Western press with regard to this issue in spite of his eminence. The following are links to a press release that he issued concerning the violence, in somewhat imperfect English, and a story from the South China Morning Post in which he is quoted at the end of a story that gives voice to other sensible monks as well.

Communal Violence Condemned by Sitagu Sayadaw

Myanmar Monks Say Most Oppose Anti-Muslim Campaign

As Buddhists our primary task is the perfection of human character. We become mindful of every intention and seek to address any tendency toward greed, hatred or delusion. Except for the rare arahant, we fall short of the aspiration, but we keep trying in a very complex and ensnarling world. Part of this task is the perfection of kindness, at which point it shines on all without bias, even on those who might wish us harm.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Dan74
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Dan74 » Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:35 pm

Thank you for sharing - interesting to hear this perspective. Though having only read Western media up until now, I got pretty much the same impression as the Venerable conveys. Maybe it's my filters or maybe it's that the media has not been as bad as he says. Of course there are the usual simplifications and exaggerations - WIrathu is not a Buddhist Bin Laden, but by virtue of being the most prominent face of the anti-Muslim campaign, which has included terror and murder, he has understandably become associated with the worst of it.

Has he preached restraint? Has he urged the people to refrain from violence? I hope so, but even if he has, divisive speech, broad-brush smears and fostering prejudice can only be expected to lead to more bloodshed. So while not advocating the killings, I think he bears some responsibility for them.
_/|\_

binocular
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by binocular » Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:40 pm

It's easy to judge and condemn others when one's own arse is not on the line.



At Savatthi. There the Blessed One said: "From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. When you see someone who has fallen on hard times, overwhelmed with hard times, you should conclude: 'We, too, have experienced just this sort of thing in the course of that long, long time.'

"Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Ajatashatru
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Ajatashatru » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:48 pm

Seeing some of the posts of these members makes me wonder what fantasy world you guys are living in? I am from India and Northeast India (resembling SE Asia ethnically) is OVERRRUN with Muslim Bangladeshi infiltrators (like Rohingyas). Is anybody aware of how Buddhism was wiped out in Kargil (kashmir) within a century by Muslim intermarriage and overbreeding? Are you guys aware that in India, wherever there are more Muslims than Hindus: kidnappings, rapings, murders, and conversion of kafirs by Muslims is the norm? Have you heard about the plight of Buddhists in nearby Bangladesh.

Let me ask you guys something. Does anyone condemn the bombing of Germany in World War 2? Surely a lot of innocent people lost their lives? But you justify it by saying there was a war going on. Like it or not, the civilized world (especially us belonging to Dharma traditions) are in a war with pan-Islam. There will be innocent blood spilled in a war. We have to deal with it and stop pointing fingers while roosting in our ivory towers.

:anjali:

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cooran
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by cooran » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:00 pm

Hello AJatashatru,

It would probably be worthwhile if, when you feel people are misinformed, rather than expressing dosa, that you posted links to support your view so they could read, be informed and understand what the situation is.

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Alex123
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Alex123 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:18 pm

Ajatashatru wrote:Seeing some of the posts of these members makes me wonder what fantasy world you guys are living in?
I agree with what you say. I hope Burma will not become like 12th century India when a certain strong religion started to destroy Buddhism there.
Unfortunately in this cruel world, "might makes it right" and only the strongest, cruelest, most cunning survive. I would not be surprised if the most aggressive religion wins in the end. Why not, if they destroy the opposition and are the only one left standing?

Unfortunately I have witnessed extreme unfairness where one concedes something, smelling weakness they grab it, keep demanding and grabbing more, and then make the victim look like bad and evil person even though it was they who ripped someone off and not being satisfied with only that, accused the victim.
cooran wrote:It would probably be worthwhile if, when you feel people are misinformed, rather than expressing dosa, that you posted links to support your view so they could read, be informed and understand what the situation is.
One could start with:
By the time the Muslims began conquering northern India in the 12th century under the Ghurids, the number of monasteries had severely declined.[39][42] Buddhism, which once had spread across the face of India, was a vital force confined to an ever-shrinking number of monasteries in the areas of its origins
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of ... _invasions
Or with destruction of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan in March 2001.
On 6 March 2001 The Times quoted Mullah Mohammed Omar as stating, "Muslims should be proud of smashing idols. It has given praise to Allah that we have destroyed them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhas_of_Bamiyan
Is this what Buddhists want?
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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cooran
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by cooran » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:58 pm

Hello Alex,

What did the Buddha teach on being violent?

I haven't found anywhere where he encouraged violence in speech, thought or word.

But I would welcome correction.

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Alex123
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Alex123 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:00 pm

cooran wrote:What did the Buddha teach on being violent?
If someone wants to kill you, are you going to willingly allow them to do so, thus even in this case be implicit in allowing violence to occur?

If someone wants to destroy Dhamma, is protection of the aggressors more important than protection of Dhamma? Maybe I should quit this sort of Buddhism which will not survive in the reality of 21st century world.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Ajatashatru
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Ajatashatru » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:08 pm

"The Musalman invaders sacked the Buddhist Universities of Nalanda, Vikramshila, Jagaddala, Odantapuri to name only a few. They raised to the ground Buddhist monasteries with which the country was studded. The monks fled away in thousands to Nepal, Tibet and other places outside India. A very large number were killed outright by the Muslim commanders. How the Buddhist priesthood perished by the sword of the Muslim invaders has been recorded by the Muslim historians themselves. Summarizing the evidence relating to the slaughter of the Buddhist Monks perpetrated by the Musalman General in the course of his invasion of Bihar in 1197 AD, Mr. Vincent Smith says, "....Great quantities of plunder were obtained, and the slaughter of the 'shaven headed Brahmans', that is to say the Buddhist monks, was so thoroughly completed, that when the victor sought for someone capable of explaining the contents of the books in the libraries of the monasteries, not a living man could be found who was able to read them. 'It was discovered,' we are told, 'that the whole of that fortress and city was a college, and in the Hindi tongue they call a college Bihar.' "Such was the slaughter of the Buddhist priesthood perpetrated by the Islamic invaders. The axe was struck at the very root. For by killing the Buddhist priesthood, Islam killed Buddhism. This was the greatest disaster that befell the religion of the Buddha in India...."
quote by Dr. Ambedkar

"There can be no doubt that the fall of Buddhism in India was due to the invasions of the Musalmans." Islam came out as the enemy of the 'But'. The word 'But' as everybody knows, is the Arabic word and means an idol. Thus the origin of the word indicates that in the Moslem mind idol worship had come to be identified with the Religion of the Buddha. To the Muslims, they were one and the same thing. The mission to break the idols thus became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but whatever it went. Before Islam came into being Buddhism was the religion of Bactria, Parthia, Afghanistan, Gandhar, and Chinese Turkestan, as it was of the whole of Asia..."
quote by Hindu nationalist historian Sitaram Goel

http://thedevil.com/The_Hindu_Holocaust ... 0Buddhists

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