Dalai Lama Calls for Narrowing the Gap Between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma

By Lin Thant 20 October 2016

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel peace laureate the Dalai Lama has urged Burma’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to bridge the gap between Buddhist and Muslim communities in the country.

The Dalai Lama conveyed the message while being interviewed by The Irrawaddy on the sidelines of a panel discussion entitled “The World and Its Current Challenges” at the 20th Forum 2000 Conference in the Czech capital of Prague on Tuesday.

“Now, she’s got the opportunity to work. And I think she should pay some attention to reduc[ing] some gaps [between] the Buddhist community and the Muslim community,” the Dalai Lama told The Irrawaddy, in reference to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Buddhist monk highlighted the importance of inner peace as a means to end conflicts between different communities.

“If we can develop inner peace, we can build on it to create world peace. What we require is a more universal approach to human values that can appeal to everyone. There are grounds for optimism,” said the 81-year-old.

Buddhist and Muslim communities in Arakan State remain largely segregated since anti-Muslim violence swept the region in 2012 and 2013, which killed scores and displaced around 140,000 people, the majority of them self-identifying Muslim Rohingya—a group that the government labels as “Bengali.”

Most recently, fatal attacks against police border outposts allegedly committed by Muslim militants have led to a joint police and Burma Army manhunt in the area, displacing many.

When questioned on the topic of terrorism, the Dalai Lama warned against associating such acts with any religion.

“Extremists have no religion,” he said.

While on an official visit to India, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was quoted in the Hindustan Times discussing a similar issue.

“Terrorism is rife all over the world, so I think it is terrorism we need to isolate and to eliminate. I do not like to think in terms of individuals or organizations or countries, although these come into the equation as well,” said the state counselor.