When Peace Building Is Not A Lovey-Dovey Endeavor: Burma
The challenge of organizing and staffing a truly open fact-finding commission [in Myanmar] is not going to be a simple or easy matter. INEB and JUST, the sponsoring organizations, take this responsibility seriously, knowing that the well-being of our friends and allies inside Myanmar are at stake.
—Hozan Alan Senauke [Emphasis added.]
Friend, leader of Clear View Project, and former BPF Executive Director Alan Senauke recently returned from Malaysia’s gathering of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB). The gathering occurs once every other year, and this year participants discussed inter-faith peace building, with a special focus on international Buddhist-Muslim relations. From the conference web site:
In recent years, there have been examples of Buddhist and Muslim tensions in Thailand, Indonesia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Buddhism and Islam are the two most prevalent religions in Southeast Asia. It is vital that strong bonds of mutual respect and compassion between these two great faiths are maintained and nurtured.
To some, peace building and inter-faith dialogue may sound like sweet affairs of well-wishes and fairy dust. But in the context of deadly tensions, geopolitics, and genocidal campaigns, even small steps toward making peace can carry great risk.
Despite the dangers, an important outcome of the INEB conference was that a group of people created a Fact-Finding Commission for Myanmar to explore relations between Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslim minority (a refugee group that has settled in Burma, and is now arguably under genocidal attack.)
As Maia Duerr of the Jizo Chronicles puts it, “it is one small step toward addressing a terribly huge issue in Southeast Asia.”
November 20, 2013
Towards the Creation of a Fact-Finding Commission on Relations
Between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar
The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) concluded its biennial conference on November 4 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, our first such meeting in a Muslim-majority nation. The conference theme — Inter-Faith Dialogue for Peace and Sustainability — points to the interdependence of Buddhists and Muslims throughout Southeast Asia. A long history of harmonious relations across all the nations of this region has been challenged in recent years by inter-religious conflicts rooted in a complexity of economic, political, social, and cultural tensions. INEB’s mission is to respect the integrity of all religions and people, restoring harmony wherever possible.
A significant outcome of this unique gathering was the affirmation of the establishment of an international forum for Buddhist-Muslim relations, drawing from members of INEB and Malaysia-based International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
At the close of the conference, a special session brought together Buddhist monks and laypeople, Muslims, and concerned friends from inside and outside Myanmar to consider conflicts and violence that have taken place inside that country over the last two years. Participants in this session, including people of four religions and from interfaith partners inside Myanmar, called upon this interfaith forum to establish a fact-finding commission to examine relations between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar.
Collaborating with local civil-society bodies inside Myanmar, this fact-finding commission would have three objectives:
1. to bring forth the facts of Buddhist-Muslim conflict in Myanmar;
2. to ascertain the causes of this conflict;
3. to develop resources and proposals for the establishment of inter-religious peace and harmony in Myanmar.
Guided by these objectives, an open-minded interfaith group will research conditions inside Myanmar and offer advice and support for the restoration of inter-religious and inter-ethnic stability. Members of INEB see this work as the embodiment of our vision of peace and sustainability across the region and among all peoples.
— END —
INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF ENGAGED BUDDHISTS (INEB)
INEB Secretariat Office
666 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan,
Bangkok 10600 SIAM (Thailand)
Tel. (+66) 081 803 6442