Bangladesh vows to protect Buddhists after attacks set off by Facebook photo of burned Quran

October 1, 2012

AP: Hundreds of Buddhists who fled their southern Bangladesh villages in the wake of attacks by Muslims started returning home Monday amid heightened security and more than 160 arrests.

The Buddhists moved to safety after an overnight weekend attack in which thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims burned at least 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes in anger over a Facebook photo of a burned Quran.

Army soldiers, paramilitary border guards and police were deployed, and the government has banned all public gatherings in the troubled areas near the southern border with Myanmar, said Lt. Col. Jaed Hossain, a military commander who was helping to install tents for …

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Buddhism’s dirty secret

September 19, 2012

One of the things that makes Buddhism an attractive spiritual path for people in the west is its historical track record as a peaceful religion. You’ll often hear western Buddhists say that Buddhism has never had any holy wars, for example. But there’s a but…

Certainly, there’s nothing in the Buddha’s teaching to support violence. In essence, Buddhism is a religion of peace whose teachings have no place even for “righteous anger” or violence as a means of self-defense. As the Buddha said,

“Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my

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Burmese Christians forced to convert to Buddhism

September 10, 2012

The Express Tribune: Christian students from Myanmar’s Chin ethnic minority have been forced to convert to Buddhism, shave their heads and wear monastic robes, a rights group said Wednesday.

The Chin, a mainly Christian group in the poor and remote west of the predominantly Buddhist country, face harassment for the link between their faith and British colonial rule, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).

“President Thein Sein’s government claims that religious freedom is protected by law but in reality Buddhism is treated as the de facto state religion”, said Salai Ling, Program Director of the CHRO.

Rachel Fleming, another member of …

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In Buddhist Burma, monks gone wild

August 5, 2012

Andrew Lam: New American Media: For a country steeped in Buddhism, Burma is accruing terrible karmic debts.

Alarming news and images of attacks and killings by the Buddhist majority in Rakhine Province against a Muslim minority there have been slowly trickling out onto the Internet and the wider world. Pictures of charred bodies and crying parents have stirred largely unheeded calls for intervention, mostly from Muslim nations.

The attacks have been primarily one-sided, with Muslims generally and Rohingyas specifically the targets and victims,” Benjamin Zawacki, a Bangkok-based researcher for Amnesty International, told The Associated Press. “Some of this is by the security forces’ own hands, some by Rakhine Buddhists with the security forces turning … Read more »

Violent Buddhists and the “No True Scotsman” fallacy

June 19, 2012

I recently had a conversation on Google+ (it’s a social network that’s — in my opinion — a much better alternative to Facebook) about Buddhist violence in Burma. Following the alleged rape of a Buddhist woman in Burma by members of that country’s Muslim minority, there was an outbreak of violence in which 2,600 homes were torched and at least 29 people died.

I condemned this violence unequivocally. There is no justification in the Buddhist scriptures for violence. There is no Buddhist doctrine of “just war” or even of “righteous anger.” The Buddha condemned all forms of violence, and famously said that even if bandits were sawing you limb from limb, you should have compassion … Read more »

EU welcomes “measured” Burmese response to rioting

June 13, 2012

The European Union said on Monday it was satisfied with Myanmar’s “measured” handling of the Muslim-Buddhist violence that engulfed one of its biggest towns at the weekend.

As rival mobs of Muslims and Buddhists torched houses in Sittwe, the biggest town in northwestern Myanmar, police fired into the air and Muslims fled to neighboring Bangladesh.

The fighting was the worst communal violence since a reformist government replaced a junta last year, began to allow political pluralism and vowed to tackle ethnic divisions – moves that helped persuade the United States and European Union to suspend economic sanctions.

Brussels made clear that it did not believe …

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Suu Kyi hopes victory is dawn of new era in Burma

April 2, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi claimed victory Monday in Burma’s historic by-election, saying she hoped it would mark the beginning of a new era for the long-repressed country.

Suu Kyi spoke to thousands of cheering supporters who gathered outside her opposition party headquarters a day after her party declared she had won a parliamentary seat in the closely watched vote.

The Election Commission has not yet confirmed the results, but government officials have commented on Suu Kyi’s victory and the people of Burma – also known as Myanmar – have reacted with jubilation.

“The success we are having is the success of the people,” Suu Kyi …

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Suu Kyi to spend three days in meditation centre in Rangoon

July 28, 2011

Myo Thant (Mizzima): National League for Democracy (NLD) General-Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi will go on a three-day retreat in a Rangoon meditation centre from Friday to Sunday, according to Win Htein, the NLD office chief.

“Starting Friday she will spend three days in the meditation centre at the Shwetaunggone Pannita Yama Monastery to practise meditation,” he told Mizzima. The monastery has three branches in Rangoon and he declined to identify the monastery, but some observers said it is believed to be the Shwetaunggone Pannita Yama Monastery at “10-Mile Hill” in Rangoon. After her release from house arrest in November 2010, she donated food to monks in the Shwetaunggone Pannita Yama Monastery…

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Aung San Suu Kyi’s hope for genuine democracy

February 19, 2011

In a program aired on Feb. 11, Aung San Suu Kyi discusses forgiveness, the importance of being concerned more for others than for oneself, and the benefits of meditation.

Q: I served as the general secretary of the National Democratic Congress Party when I was in Burma, and you stayed with our party when you visited the Kachin State back in 1989. I am very happy to hear that you have now been released from detention. I would like to know what you intend to do to bring about change in our country, what you will do when those changes happen, and how you will maintain those changes. Also, I would like to know how … Read more »

Burma: Bad government, great people

January 5, 2011

It’s not quite 5 a.m. as I push through the doors of the hotel and into the pre-dawn darkness of Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. I am reminded by the nativity scene on the lawn in front of the hotel that it is almost Christmas. Though Burma (the ruling military junta would prefer it be called Myanmar) is 90 percent Buddhist there are still signs of Christianity and, therefore, Christmas as part of the legacy left behind by the British occupation before Burma’s independence in 1948.

Though it is winter in Burma, the daytime temps in Yangon will still push into the high 80’s or 90’s. At this hour, however, it is still relatively cool … Read more »