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