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In response to the recent ethnic violence against Muslims in Burma's Rakhine state, which has often been supported and perpetuated by the area's Buddhists, international Buddhist leaders have produced this statement, due to be published in Burmese newspapers this week:
WORLD BUDDHIST LEADERS RESPONSE
TO THE GROWING ETHNIC VIOLENCE AGAINST MUSLIMS IN MYANMAR
To Our Brother and Sister Buddhists in Myanmar,
As world Buddhist leaders we send our lovingkindess and concern for the difficulties the people of Myanmar are faced with at this time. While it is a time of great positive change in Myanmar we are concerned about the growing ethnic violence and the targeting of Muslims in Rakhine State and the violence against Muslims and others across the country. The Burmese are a noble people, and Burmese Buddhists carry a long and profound history of upholding the Dharma.
We wish to reaffirm to the world and to support you in practicing the most fundamental Buddhist principles of non-harming, mutual respect and compassion.
These fundamental principles taught by the Buddha are at the core of Buddhist practice:
Buddhist teaching is based on the precepts of refraining from killing and causing harm.
Buddhist teaching is based on compassion and mutual care.
Buddhist teaching offers respect to all, regardless of class, caste, race or creed.
We are with you for courageously standing up for these Buddhist principles even when others would demonize or harm Muslims or other ethnic groups. It is only through mutual respect, harmony and tolerance that Myanmar can become a modern great nation benefiting all her people and a shining example to the world.
Whether you are a Sayadaw or young monk or nun, or whether you are a lay Buddhist, please, speak out, stand up, reaffirm these Buddhist truths, and support all in Myanmar with the compassion, dignity and respect offered by the Buddha.
We stand with you in the Dharma,
Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
President Buddhist Global Relief
(world's foremost translator of the Pali Canon)
Dr. AT Ariyaratne
Founder Nationwide Sarvodaya Movement
Ghandi Peace Prize Laureate
Ven. Chao Khun Raja Sumedhajahn
Elder, Ajahn Chah Monasteries
Wat Ratanavan, Thailand
Ven. Phra Paisal Visalo
Chair Buddhika Network Buddhism and Society
Ven. Arjia Rinpoche VIII
Abbot Tibetan Mongolian Cultural Center
Ven. Shodo Harada Roshi
Abbot Sogenji Rinzai Zen Monastery
Achariya Professor J Simmer Brown
Chairperson Buddhist Studies
Naropa Buddhist University
Ven. Ajahn Amaro Mahathera
Abbot Amaravati Vihara
Ven. Hozan A Senauke
International Network of Engaged Buddhists
Younge Khachab Rinpoche VIII
Abbot Younge Drodul Ling
Ven. Sr. Thich Nu Chan Kong
President Plum Village Zen temples
Dr. Jack Kornfield Vipassana Achariya
Convener Western Buddhist Teachers Council
Lama Surya Das
Dzogchen Foundation International
Ven. Zoketsu N. Fischer Soto Roshi
Fmr. Abbot largest Zen community in the West
Tulku Sherdor Rinpoche
Director BI. Wisdom Institute
Professor Robert Tenzin C. Thurman
Center for Buddhist Studies
HH the XIV Dalai Lama
Though not able to be reached in time to sign this letter, HH the Dalai Lama has publicly and repeatedly stated his concern about the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. He urges everyone to continue to practice non-violence and retain the religious harmony that is central to our ancient and revered culture.