Dalai Lama appeals to Myanmar monks to respect Muslims

Tibetan Buddhist leader's plea an attempt to end violence in Myanmar

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 3:50am


The Dalai Lama has urged Myanmar monks to act according to their Buddhist principles, in a plea to end the deadly violence against the country's Muslim minority.

"Those Burmese monks, please, when they develop some kind of anger towards Muslim brothers and sisters, please, remember the Buddhist faith," the Buddhist leader said on Tuesday at an annual human-rights conference in the Czech capital, Prague.

"I am sure ... that would protect those Muslim brothers and sisters who are becoming victims," Tibet's exiled spiritual leader said.

Buddhist monks have been at the forefront of demands to purge Myanmar of Muslims, taking part in protests and, sometimes, violent mobs. Clashes in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine last year left about 200 people dead - mostly Rohingya Muslims who are denied citizenship - and 140,000 others homeless.

Having earned scorn for her failure to clearly condemn the violence, Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's pro-democracy icon turned opposition leader, said its constitution had to change for the ethnic violence to end.

"The ethnic problem will not be solved by this present constitution, which does not meet the aspirations of the ethnic nationalities," Suu Kyi told reporters at the Forum 2000 conference on Tuesday.

"We've got to give our people a sense of security first, they must feel they have equal access to justice.

"If somebody is afraid of being attacked by people from another community, you can't expect them to sit down and talk to one another."

A committee of parliamentarians have until the end of the year to produce a report with their recommended changes to the constitution, which was written by the former junta more than a decade ago.

Suu Kyi said last week that she alone could not stop the anti-Muslim violence and that the solution was to install the rule of law.