A Joint Buddhist-Muslim Statement on Inter–Communal Violence in Burma

Recently, I shared about a missive I had the privilege of collaborating on with my friend Joshua Eaton: an open letter from Buddhist teachers and scholars and others on Islamophobia. Joshua authored the letter — with a few of us offering little tweaks and edits — and I put together a website for the letter and helped spread the word and generate signatures. The letter was motivated by recent news reports out of Burma and Thailand, as well as by the month of Ramadan.

A new letter — this one authored by another friend, Bill Aiken of SGI-USA, and expanded in scope beyond Ramadan — has just appeared, and, again, I’m honored to be a signatory and play a role in spreading the word about it. (I’m sad to say that it arrives on the same day that this news does, but that’s why statements like this need to be written and shared.) You can read the letter and see all the signers in full below.

A Joint Buddhist-Muslim Statement on Inter–Communal Violence in Burma

Prepared August 23, 2012

We, the undersigned representatives of American Buddhist and Muslim communities remain concerned about the ongoing developments in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. Since the violence between the Rakhine Buddhists and Rohyinga Muslims erupted in June 2012, more than eighty persons have been killed, thousands of homes, along with several mosques and monasteries have been destroyed and today hundreds of thousands remain homeless.

Both of our religious traditions uphold the dignity of all persons, and assert that all people, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, should be treated with dignity and compassion. We affirm that the suffering of any one person or any groups is our suffering and that our faiths instruct us to do all we can to relieve this suffering.

We call on the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to all who have been displaced by the recent violence, and urge the Government of Myanmar to respect and protect the fundamental human right of nationality of the Rohyinga People whose families have lived in Myanmar for many generations.

We applaud the recent creation of an internal commission to investigate the causes of this violence. We look with hope toward this body working in an inclusive manner to help light the way toward the peaceful co-existence of these peoples.

We express appreciation to people of all faiths who have been working courageously to build bridges of sympathetic understanding, and call on the Buddhist and Muslim religious leaders in Myanmar to help set a constructive example for working together as peoples from two distinct yet respect-worthy traditions.


Mr. William K. Aiken, Director of Public Affairs, Soka Gakkai International-USA Buddhist Association

Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director, Interfaith & Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America

Dr. Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University

Ven. Bhikku Bodhi, Chair, Buddhist Global Relief

Dr. Hugh Byrne, Co-founder, Washington Buddhist Peace Fellowship

Ven. M. Dhammasiri, Sangha Nayaka (Chief Monk) of North America

Rev. Danny Fisher, Director, Buddhist Chaplaincy Program, University of the West

Roshi Bernie Glassman, Founder, Zen Peacemakers Community

Acharya Fleet Maull, Director, Prison Dharma Project

Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Abbot, Village Zendo Zen Buddhist Temple (New York)

Mr. Haris Tarin, Washington DC Office Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Dr. Sovan Tun, Director, Cambodian Buddhist Society

  • Jeff

    Danny, it isn’t clear to me where this letter is located. I’m sure many readers will wish to sign it too.

  • http://sumanakitti.blogspot.com Ass

    Incident happened in Asia not in the USA!

  • Slanser

    Why don’t you all just be quiet. Muslims just launched a disastrous riot in Burma on June 8 and they just launched another one on Buddhist in Bangladesh.

    They have committed a series of massacre in Bangladesh in the past, why don’t you write any open letter. If you can’t say do anything correctly or appropriate, then just stay out of it. It is not your life that is in danger that’s why you just sit there and say stupid things, go live with these blood thirsty then come back and rewrite your bias letter.

  • How about this ?

    The day myanmar immigrants in Thailand living more than generations who do not kill native Thai peple , do not try to dominate , do not breed like hell , get equal Human Right … we will think about it … not now …. just try to live in Butheedaung , Maungtaw area and try to survive , ok .. there was a reason the population of Native Rakhine only left 5% in those Bengali infested area …..

  • sub

    I agree with you. Buddhists in Bangladesh are not alians, they are indigenious people. Buddhists temples were the only shade for Muslims in the past when Parkistan attacked Bangladesh. Most of these articles I have seen is very biased, and this is only one of them. When Muslims behead Thailands innocent Buddhist monks no aretilces were written like this. As long as violence is promoted by religious principles, there will be no end for this kind of attacks. Because, people tend to read thier religion for justification of their actions. If killing or harming non-believers is approved on fool assumptions, in those books….???? nothing to say.. you yourself have to decide..

  • Tom

    Just wondering, have any of the signers actually gone to that region to witness first hand what is going on? Where are you getting your information? Who are your sources? The situation, I’m afraid, is much more complicated than what you put forth in your letter.