For Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi should speak more openly about the Rohingya problem
The Muslim minority has been denied citizenship and is segregated in refugee camps. Myanmar’s Buddhist majority is opposed to the presence of Muslims in the country. In an interview with Reuters, the Dalai Lama said he talked about the issue with Aung San Suu Kyi. He slams the nationalist attitude. “If Buddha happened, he certainly would protect those Muslim brothers and sisters,” he said.
Yangon (AsiaNews) – Aung San Suu Kyi has a moral responsibility to ease tensions between majority Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims, fellow Nobel Prize laureate the Dalai Lama told Reuters in Washington.
The leader of the National League for Democracy, which won Myanmar’s last elections, “should speak more openly” about the Rohingya minority, which is not treated well or even recognised.
The Dalai Lama has met Ms Suu Kyi several times. She told him that the situation was “really complicated.”
The Dalai Lama said some Buddhist monks in Myanmar “seem to have some kind of negative attitude to Muslims” and Buddhists who harboured such thoughts “should remember Buddha’s face.”
The reference here is to Ma Ba Tha, an ultra-nationalist Buddhist group that is opposed to Rohingya presence and is suspicious of religions other than Buddhism (including Christianity).
“If Buddha happened [today], he certainly would protect those Muslim brothers and sisters,” the Dalai Lama said.
Since 2012, Myanmar has been the scene of sectarian violence that has left at least people 300 dead and displaced 140,000, most of them Rohingya Muslims, in Rakhine State.
Originally from Bangladesh, the latter are not considered Myanmar citizens and live in isolation, in refugee camps. In the past few years, thousands have tried to escape to other countries of Southeast Asia.
The Rohingya issue came to the fore in April, when the US Embassy in Yangon expressed condolence over the death of several Muslims killed in a boating accident.
On that occasion, Burmese nationalists harshly criticised the US statement over the use of the word Rohingya, saying that the Muslims should be called Bengali to suggest that they are illegal immigrants.
Suu Kyi said during a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry on 22 May that the country needed “enough space” to deal with the Rohingya issue and cautioned against the use of “emotive terms” that she said were making the situation more difficult.
Late last month, the new Myanmar government announced a new plan to bring religious harmony and respect for all faiths.
On 30 May, it announced that Ms Suu Kyi would head a new commission to bring peace to Rakhine State, where some rebel groups are still fighting the central government.