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Aug-14-2012 23:09printcomments

An Open Letter to the Buddhist World

Buddhists are considered an indigenous ethnicity both in Bangladesh and Myanmar; Rohingya are considered foreigners both in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Buddhist statue

(SITTWE Akyab, Myanmar) - All religions in the world help people lead stable social lives; providing communities ethic, morality, and spiritual development that help to establish a peaceful society. Every religion has a right to claim that “it is the best religion” but no religion can claim that “this is the only best religion in the world”.

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama in 500 B.C. In the beginning, it had a lot of followers because it could help for peace and justice. In China, during the Han dynasty, people fed up with internal conflicts and Buddhism showed them peaceful lives that caused Buddhism to spread to China.

On the Indian sub-continent, Buddhism did not stand longer; when Asoka converted to Buddhist, he contributed a lot to spread Buddhism throughout Asia. He gathered together all Buddhists monk and scholars to compile Gautama’s saying.

There are two main sects of Buddhism; Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism. In Mahayana, Buddhist monks can do whatever a normal person does but, in Theravada, monks must conduct completely differently in public.

In Myanmar, the majority of Buddhists believe in Theravada Buddhism which influenced Burma after unification by King Anawratha. During the British colonial period, Burmese people started their political movement under religious and social organizations. Steadily, Burmese politicians used religion to gain their political goals.

After the assassination of General Aung San, Burmese politicians tried to deprive rights of other religions; especially Christianity and Islam. Buddhist politicians look these two religions as danger and propagate against those. After independent, because of injustice, ethnic minority started to revolt against government. In Arakan State, the Mujahedin movement fought to get Rohingyas’ fundamental rights, soon, through reconciliation, Rohingyas were approved as an indigenous ethnic race of Burma by parliament democratic government.

With nationalization by Dictator Ne Win, ethnic minorities came under persecution; especially Christians and Muslims.

Before the Independence of Myanmar, there were 3 million Buddhists living in East Pakistan, Bangladesh. It was claimed that the newly-born country, Bangladesh had attempted to displace the indigenous Buddhist inhabitants.

The total population of Bangladesh in 2004 is about 125 million with only 1 million Buddhists living in Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Comilla, Noakhali, Cox’s Bazar and Barisal. Buddhism is the third largest faith in Bangladesh comprising of about 0.7% of the total population. Most of Buddhist belong to the Chakma, Chak,Marma,Tenchungya and Kyang tribes which you can find in the Rakhine State too.

In order to figure out what is the real attitude of Buddhists toward Muslims in Myanmar, could you please pay attention to the following facts?

1. Before the independence of Myanmar, there were 3 million Buddhists in Bangladesh. In 2004 it became 1 million, now it is less than 1 million, where did the rest go, did the Bangladesh government kill them, or did they suicide themselves?

2. For Buddhists, there is full right in Rakhine State; all security forces, polices, immigrations, and office staffs are Rakhines, Rohingya are not allowed to serve.

3. Buddhists are considered an indigenous ethnicity both in Bangladesh and Myanmar; Rohingya are considered foreigners both in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

4. Several times, thousands of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh because of persecution, and Myanmar's government received them as their citizens but still Rohingya are not recognized as Myanmar citizens.

5. Bangladesh government gives full rights to the Buddhists without discrimination, Buddhists can get high positions in Bangldesh where the majority is Muslim, and even Bangladesh ambassador of Myanmar is Buddhist now. Buddhist Myanmar has been oppressing Muslims of Myanmar since 1962.

6. Prime Minister Mrs. Sheikh Hasina has urged people of all faiths and communities to work shoulder to shoulder to build Bangladesh as the most peaceful and prosperous nation in South Asia. She gave the call while speaking as chief guest at a function marking the unveiling of 48-feet high statue of Lord Buddha at Dharmarajika Buddhist Monastery campus.

7. Myanmar's government already had banned the building of Churches and Mosques since 1962, beside, hundreds of Mosques had been already destroyed, old Mosques can not be decorated, Muslims can not pray five times prayers in all new cities and townships which establish by military regime.

8. Myanmar Buddhists’ main propaganda is "Muslims are trying to spread Islam through marriage; Christians use aids to convert Buddhist to Christian".

9. In every school, there is Buddhist worship house, in every street, there is Buddhist Dammayun; worship houses, why not Churches, why not Mosques?

10. Thousands of Rohigyas were killed , their houses were burnt, their properties were looted that did not satisfy them, they announced that Rohingya should be deported to a third country. Is it called Buddhist justice? Is it the essence of Buddhism?

11. Could you please study these two countries, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and focus on the essence of two religions, Buddhism and Islam. If the attitude of Myanmar Buddhists is wrong, why are you still silent then?

12. Do you really believe in Buddhism? Why don’t you practice eight fold paths?

13. If you really want to spread Buddhism, please don’t try by force, you can not convince anyone to convert, try in humble and gentle way, like Christian and Islam.

14. You can read the Bible and Quran in every language of the world but in Myanmar, which Buddhists claim as a Buddhist Country, people can hardly find Buddhist Tripitika in the Burmese language; 99% of Buddhists do not know the essence of Buddhism. Why don’t you try to educate them?

15. This is my humble advice to you that through injustice way, you can not overwhelm, you can not spread Buddhism, and injustice can not stand longer.

16. If you really believe Buddhism as a true religion, why you don’t try to show its beauty, why are you still silent regarding persecution of Rohingya in Arakan State.

17. Don’t you feel ashamed that Bangladesh can give the full right to Buddhist and Myanmar is continuously discriminating? Is it reality of Buddhism?

18. I believe Siddhartha Gautama as a great teacher, I respect him as I respect to all Prophets. I don’t see racism in his teaching, why are you insulting him in the name Buddhism?

Yours Faithfully
Aung Aung Oo
Chin Pain Road
Kun Dan Quarter
Sittwe (Akyab)




Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Almore August 22, 2012 11:12 am (Pacific time)

Do not trust everthing one hear or see. It was fabricated pictures of innocent Tibetan people persecuted by Pakistan's Uncle China.

Bamuna August 19, 2012 5:37 am (Pacific time)

I am a Sri lankan Buddhist. In Sri lanka, muslims destroy anything Buddhist. 1000 year old buddha statues were razed to ground by Muslims and build mosques there.

Editor: There are no Muslims destroying statues in Sri Lanka, that happened in Afghanistan.  

Tom August 17, 2012 11:35 am (Pacific time)

I think the status of Muslim in Burma was fabricated. Now all the western and India media has come to know that the pictures of 2008 Tibetan Earthquake victims were maniputed to show Muslim's plight in Burma. One Tibetan college boy was stabbed in Mysore, India. Now the world has realised that the Muslims in Burma were enjoying good life.

Editor: We replaced a couple of photos to eliminate the problem, sadly nobody has to make up this tragedy.

Prabhakar August 17, 2012 12:23 am (Pacific time)

Very greatly done a comparision between Bangladesh and Myanmar, why dont u talk about Hindus state in Pakistan, why don't you talk about how Muslim allows to build temple and churches in gulf countries, Last one question as you said everyone have a right to say there religion is the best religion but they dont have a right to say they are the only one, Let me know are You Islam or christian, do you people atleat accept other religion as a religion, won't you people say there is only one God that is Jesus if they were christian, its Allah if they were Muslim, while saying so, how you trying to preach others.

Anonymous August 16, 2012 9:14 pm (Pacific time)

Why don't you write a letter to the Religion of Peace Islam? Tell them to stop killing our troops, innocent people, fellow Muslims. Why don't you writ a letter to the Ne Black Panthers? These racists who threaten to kill white people, burning hem, throwing acid on them, killing white babies? Why don't you worry about our Country first? That what Liberals do I guess, worry about everybody else but their Country

Tim King: You're an ignorant fool I hate all abusers and I suspect you are no better.  Jesus was a liberal, for God's sake realize how ridiculous you are.

Roy Yue August 15, 2012 7:15 pm (Pacific time)

Please do not make this into a religious affair, it is a country affair which happens to be Myanmar, a country with majority Buddhist. It does not represents Buddhism nor the Buddhist believe not even the action of Buddhist. Hence do not try to link and blame it on a religion. Do you see other Buddhist countries persecuting other group? So don't try to involve religion into this argument. Buddhist is not identity or being, it is a believe, a faith, a spiritual practice, a way of life, like what Josh Akers put it right, when one claim to be Buddhist but to not practice what Gautama Buddha taught, they are basically not Buddhist as they do not follow what the Buddha taught, which is Wisdom, Love and Compassion.

Josh Akers August 15, 2012 9:02 am (Pacific time)

I can give you a very simple answer that you or anyone else may not like. Once you become a violent opressor like you have discribed you are no longer a Buddhist. You are not following Buddhism in any way. This means that these people who claim to be Buddhists are false. They have broken themselves away from real Buddhism and they taint our reputation as a non-violent path. If you ask the leaders of non-violent Buddhists I'm sure they will say the same thing. These people are not really Buddhist. They are just bad people with a false religion they made up that has nothing to do with Buddhist teachings.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.


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