LSE Conference on the Decades of State-sponsored Destruction of Myanmar’s Rohingya – live tweets and video (UPDATED)

maung zarni LSE 2014

Perhaps the greatest human rights tragedy of our time is unfolding now in Burma (Myanmar). A number of conferences have been convened over the last couple years to discuss various aspects of the violence there and today we are lucky enough to have global access to one of these conferences, held at the London School of Economics.While academic writers such as myself, Danny Fisher, Paul Fuller and others have consistently written about events in Burma and discussions around them, wide-spread … [Read more...]

Ethnocentric Buddhism continued…

Rohingya and supporters protest in front of the White House in May, 2013. photo via

Coming just off the heals of the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Rwandan genocide, we are called ever more clearly to understand conflicts in the world that might lead to such horrors. What is happening in Burma today eerily reflects the ethnic divides and hateful rhetoric that precipitated the murder of over 800,000 Rwandans (primarily ethnic Tutsis) in 1994.In addition to attacks in recent years, this January, mobs of (ethnic Rakhine) Buddhists massacred Rohingya Muslims in the … [Read more...]

Buddhists in Pink, a look at nuns in Burma/Myanmar

Burmese nuns on alms rounds, Burma 2011

The NY Times recently posted a video taking us briefly inside the world of female monastic life in contemporary Burma. Have a look:They report that, "Enrollment is rising at the Aung Thawada Nunnery School on the northern border of Yangon. The nuns, whose ages range from 9 to 94, join for a variety of reasons, including to escape poverty or abuse."It was great to see that the reporter, Chelsi Moy, is a young woman from my home town of Helena, Montana and I even remember her … [Read more...]

Islamophobic 969 Movement Faces Prohibition in Burma

969 Movement monk speaking in Burma

It appears that the much maligned "Buddhist Terrorist" organisation known mostly for its charismatic leader U Wirathu and its use of the 969-logo (referring to the 9 attributes of the Buddha, 6 of the Dharma, and 9 of the Sangha) may be on the way out in Burma.According to the Irrawaddy, in a directive dated to August 14, the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee (SSMNC),a government oversight committee composed of high ranking monks ruled that the 969 movement's teachings do not abide by its … [Read more...]

Buddhism and Violence on the BBC

BBC-beyondbelief

On Monday the BBC radio show Beyond Belief debated the place of violence in Buddhism. The host, Ernie Rae, was joined by:Michael Jerryson, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Youngstown State University, Ohio, who co-edited the book 'Buddhist Warfare'; Rupert Gethin, Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol, and Soe Win Than, a journalist who was born in Myanmar and who works for the BBC's Burmese Service as well as, breifly, Maung Zarni, a Burmese dissident and … [Read more...]

Burma (Myanmar) in HD

jschwarz-myanmar

In commemoration of 8/8/88 I thought I'd post a short video showing the grand, beautiful, and peaceful side of Burma, the side I remember most strongly when reflecting on my short time there. This is shot in gorgeous ultra-HD, 4096x2304 resolution, four times greater than regular 1080p HD. Unfortunately, few of us have monitors that can do much with that, but even at the 1080 HD setting, it is stunning. You can follow the photographer, Jason Schwarz, on … [Read more...]

Ethnicity, Ideologies, and the unraveling of modern Burma

pagan burma

This Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the 8/8/88 uprising in Burma, which will hopefully spur some much needed discussion about the situation in the country (officially renamed Myanmar by the military junta in 1989, but still called Burma by those who deny the legitimacy of that government).Three articles have already popped up in the last few days that deserve mention, if only for the varying perspectives in them - all dealing specifically with recent Buddhist-Muslim violence. The … [Read more...]

Smile. Breathe. Repeat., or The Need to Travel

Images from around India and Burma (Fall/Winter 2010-2011), photos by Justin Whitaker

Last Friday in Missoula, at a public talk given by Anam Thubten Rinpoche, a friend asked me what I learned in all of my travels. I hadn't put much thought into such a question, but I immediately answered, "that our lives are unnecessarily complicated."A second insight I had, as I prepare for a little talk/slideshow about my travels, is just how profoundly interconnected we all are. And how the simplest of encounters can alter the direction of our life. Or, a bit less dramatically, these … [Read more...]


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