Guest Column

World Buddhist Leaders Pen Letter to Burma

By The Irrawaddy 11 December 2012

International Buddhist leaders have written a letter to the Burmese people urging tolerance and compassion in the wake of bloody communal violence in western Burma.

To our brother and sister Buddhists in Burma,

As world Buddhist leaders we send our loving kindness and concern for the difficulties the people of Burma are faced with at this time. While it is a time of great positive change in Burma we are concerned about the growing ethnic violence and the targeting of Muslims in Rakhine (Arakan) State and the violence against Muslims and others across the country. The Burmese are a noble people, and Burmese Buddhists carry a long and profound history of upholding the Dharma.

We wish to reaffirm to the world and to support you in practicing the most fundamental Buddhist principles of non-harming, mutual respect and compassion.

These fundamental principles taught by the Buddha are at the core of Buddhist practice:

  • Buddhist teaching is based on the precepts of refraining from killing and causing harm.
  • Buddhist teaching is based on compassion and mutual care.
  • Buddhist teaching offers respect to all, regardless of class, caste, race or creed.

We are with you for courageously standing up for these Buddhist principles even when others would demonize or harm Muslims or other ethnic groups. It is only through mutual respect, harmony and tolerance that Burma can become a modern great nation benefiting all her people and a shining example to the world.

Whether you are a Sayadaw or young monk or nun, or whether you are a lay Buddhist, please, speak out, stand up, reaffirm these Buddhist truths, and support all in Burma with the compassion, dignity and respect offered by the Buddha.

We stand with you in the Dharma,

Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.



Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

President Buddhist Global Relief

(World’s foremost translator of the Pali Canon)

Sri Lanka / USA


Dr. A T Ariyaratne

Founder Nationwide Sarvodaya Movement

Gandhi Peace Prize Laureate

Sri Lanka


Ven. Chao Khun Raja Sumedhajahn

Elder, Ajahn Chah Monastaries

Wat Ratanavan, Thailand


Ven. Phra Paisal Visalo

Chair Buddhika Network Buddhism and Society



Ven. Arija Rinpoche VIII

Abbot Tibetan Mongolian Cultural Center

Mongolia / USA


Ven. Shodo Harada Roshi.

Abbot Sogenji Rinzai Zen Monastery



Achariya Professor J Simmer Brown

Chairperson Buddhist Studies

Naropa Buddhist University



Ven. Ajahn Amaro Mahathera

Abbot Amaravati Vihara



Ven. Hozan A Senauke

International Network of Engaged Buddhists



Younge Khachab Rinpoche VII.

Abbot Younge Drodul Ling



Ven. Sr. Thich Nu Chan Kong

President Plum Village Zen temples

France / Vietnam


Dr. Jack Kornfield Vipassana Achariya

Convener Western Buddhist Teachers Council



Lama Surya Das

Dzogchen Foundation International

Vajrayana Tibet / USA


Ven. Zoketsu N. Fischer Soto Roshi

Fmr. Abbot largest Zen community In the West

USA / Japan


Tulku Sherdor Rinpoche

Director BI. Wisdom Institute



HH the XIV Dalai Lama*

Nobel Laureate Tibet/India

*Though not able to be reached in time to sign this letter HH the Dalai Lama has publicly and repeatedly stated his concern about the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. He urges everyone to continue to practice non-violence and retain the religious harmony that is central to our ancient and revered culture.