Monks’ Conference Calls for Peace, Drops Interfaith Marriage Restrictions Plan

Buddhist monk U Dhammapiya speaks during a press conference on Thursday. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

Buddhist monk U Dhammapiya speaks during a press conference on Thursday. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

HMAWBI Township — A meeting of more than 200 Burmese Buddhist monks on how to solve deadly communal conflicts that have pitted majority Buddhists against Muslims declared on Friday they seek peace and accused the media of tarnishing their religion’s image.

A statement released at the end of the two-day meeting did not mention a prominent Buddhist monk’s proposal that a law be enacted to regulate inter-religious marriages, particularly specifying that anyone who marries a Buddhist woman must convert to Buddhism.

The monk U Wirathu, who is known for his anti-Muslim sermons, told reporters on Thursday on the sidelines of the conference that he would propose the legislation to parliament.

Conference spokesman U Dhammapiya, another monk, said the proposal was not directly related to the meeting. “The draft law was proposed at the wrong place and caused confusion,” he told The Associated Press.

The remarks had fueled unease that Buddhist monks are promoting religious intolerance. U Wirathu is a key leader of “969,” an ultra-nationalist movement of monks that preaches that the country’s small Muslim minority threatens racial purity and national security.

The conflict has threatened to undermine the political and economic reforms undertaken by President Thein Sein, who came to power in 2011 after almost five decades of repressive military rule.

Sectarian violence began in western Arakan State last year, when hundreds died in clashes between Buddhist and Muslims that drove about 140,000 people, mostly Muslims, from their homes. The violence had seemed confined to that region, but in late March, similar Buddhist-led violence swept the town of Meikhtila in central Burma, killing at least 43 people.

Several other towns in central Burma experienced less deadly violence, mostly involving the torching of Muslim businesses and mosques.

Regarding the violence, U Dhammapiya said that anyone who broke the law should be dealt with according to the law.

“We have to ascertain if the monks who took part in the violence were fake or genuine monks,” he said. “It has to be investigated and there should be rule of law to stop the violence.” News reports suggested that some monks were armed and encouraged the bloodletting.

Participants in the meeting, held at a monastery in Hmawbi, about 32 kilometers (20 miles) from Rangoon, complained that the media had presented a distorted view of Buddhism’s role in the violence.

U Dhammapiya told reporters on Thursday that “We are just requesting you to write the news with the right information.”

“There are many media that report ethically. But there are some which get backing from some sort of organizations,” he said, without elaborating. “We feel that it’s not balanced.”


6 Responses to Monks’ Conference Calls for Peace, Drops Interfaith Marriage Restrictions Plan

  1. Monk Wirathu face book showing, one muslim women in Shwedagon pagoda. How was he doing a lot of problem. She is Buddhist woman and they like to make violence in Yangon.
    You don’t have other job for Buddhism, we know all fake muslim woman ,fake monk doing to happen that violence. That is enough and enough

  2. I definitely share U Dhammapiya’s view and therefore referring “Rohingya topics” would like to ask some questions to the Editors of THE IRRAWADY :
    Who are the ‘puppeteers in the background’ using the AFP and often (obviously) WESTERN GREENHORN JOURNALISTS as “speaking trumpets” – Islamic parties , HRW and other NGOs , certain ideological oriented parties, The Irrawaddy itself ??
    No small number of articles are clearly onesides and subtly propagandistic perceptible. Are those stories really approved by The Irrawaddy as UNBIASED JOURNALISTIC WORK ???

  3. Regarding the violence, U Dhammapiya said that anyone who broke the law should be dealt with according to the law.

    “We have to ascertain if the monks who took part in the violence were fake or genuine monks,” he said. “It has to be investigated and there should be rule of law to stop the violence.” News reports suggested that some monks were armed and encouraged the bloodletting.
    Cheer U Dhammapiya,
    You are a real monk so try to expel U wirathu and his associates. At the same time, declare any plot to killing oppositional leaders is the serious crime and all monks will not accept this happening. All monks should demand than shwe to relocate the local Muslim to their original places for peaceful living. Those are all from real Buddhism teaching. Or than shwe will seize all lands, businesses and properties of local Muslim in the slogan of free-lunch in bama military thugs. Than shwe will make use of Buddhist monks again and again for his gaining political votes in coming 2015 election. Also announce that any monks involvement in the killing and injury to anybody should be expel from the monk hood immediately. It is your conference to address those and make apology to the ones who are suffering and killed by your faked monks after thorough investigation.

  4. I don’t believe the monk Wirathu….he is not a real monk.

  5. A Buddhist monk who KILLS A HUMAN BEING, or even only ENCOURAGES ANOTHER human being TO KILL HIMSELF (suicide) is no longer a monk. He is just a “robe wearer”, because he has broken one of the four most basic monk’s precepts (parajikan ar-pat thint bee). This is the Vinaya law Lord Buddha has laid down.

    Norman Hla has said it: “Than Shwe will seize all … properties of local Muslims in the slogan [= name] of free-lunch in [= for] Bama military thugs.” – I interpret his meaning as: interested circles within Myanmar close to military hard liners (retired or not, holding office or not) and/or vested economic interest of people close the arma (Tat ma daw) stir up “religious” violence to frighten not only the Muslims, but all normal citizens in Myanmar (mostly Buddhists) to further their own aims.
    The ruling government party USDP was created only about one year before the election out of the USDA (swan aar shin) – paramilitary thugs loyal to the now retired head of state (and his wider group). The are the same people. Have they really changed, or are they reverting to old habits?

    – Who was behind the DEEPAY-YIN MASSACRE, in which DASSK was nearly killed?

    – It was not far from Monywa where the LET-PADAN COPPER MINE problem has arisen recently. – Because of th connection to LEDI SAYADAW and the ordination hall built by KING MIN HKAUNG (of the Innwa/Ava dynasty) this also has a religious angle.
    I have recently started to wonder whether there is a difference between UMEHL and MOGE on the Myanmar side of joint projects with China? UMEHL seems to be owned by the army, and it is operating the copper mine in co-operation with China. The protesting monks, farmers and activists are being treated very unfairly even now.

    Playing the religious card in a power game can very effectively PUSH MYANMAR INTO CHAOS, if the PRESENT AUTHORITIES do not prevent mobs attacking people and burning buildings.

    Apart from the damage the riots are doing to the international name of Myanmar, they also dangerous for Myanmar Buddhism. It is not the true teaching of Lord Buddha. It is high time the Sangha came out definitely and prominently for PEACE in the country.

  6. “I don’t believe the monk Wirathu …. he is not a real monk.”
    – Well he looks like one, and he is learned in the scriptures. He has a senior position in the famous Ma-soe yein Monastery of Mandalay.

    – It is just possible that he is not connected with the “religious riots”. But he conditions the Buddhist lay community to get exited about the danger posed by Islam.
    Certainly Myanmar’s neighbour Bagladesh is an Islamic country, but so far their government remains commited to democracy and secularism. Bangladesh is a very far cry from Muslim countires like Iran or Saudi Arabia. And Bangladesh is not invading Myanmar forcefully. It is just poor and overpopulated. Its citizens are trickling beyond its borders in all directions (including Yakhaing) But this is their private effort to find a better life, it is not a danger that should (or could) be met by lawless action like riots, killings and burning houses.

    It is just possible, that the monks, who were seen wielding swords and sticks in Meiktilar, were dressed up persons. All the more it is important to find out who they were, and who the government is shielding by remaining inactive.

    BUT U WIRATHU MAY NOT BE A SAINTLY MONK, inspite of his learning.
    His patriotism is limited (it is not “love all beings”), his idea to prevent Buddhist women by law to marry Moslems, is fantastic. So also are the means to prevent such marriages. The news are already making headlines in international Buddhism. If it is not a joke, it is unbuddhistic, and harming Buddhism shown to non-Buddhists worldwide as a path to freedom. (except if you are a Buddhist woman in Myanmar???)

    The idea has already been rejected by Myanmar Buddhist women as limiting their natural freedom. It would be far better to make a law, that Muslim men, who are Myanmar citizens, can marry only a single wife. That a Buddhist wife does not need to change her religion, if she marries a moslem. That they must be married in the registrar’s office, not by a Muslim cleric. This must be done by the secular government, not by Buddhist monks.

    If monks join religious riots, It is high time for the Sangha to start cleaning itself of undiserable elements. I am waiting for the Sangha Mahanayakas to come out definitely in condemming the riots, 200 monks at a conference (out of 400.000 in the whole country) are not enough.

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