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His Holiness the Dalai Lama Appeals to Aung San Suu Kyi

By Jigme Wangchuk  /  September 13, 2017;

Photo: OHHDL / Jeremy Russell

Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been entreated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to act against the persecution of the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

The Buddhist leader, who is a Nobel peace laureate himself, said that Suu Kyi must speak up on the sectarian crisis and the discriminatory treatment meted by the country’s Buddhist majority.

“It’s very sad. In the Burmese case I hope Aung San Suu Kyi, as a Nobel laureate, can do something”, the Dalai Lama was quoted as saying to The Australian’s Thursday paper.

The Dalai Lama said that it was not the first time he had urged the Burmese opposition leader to do something about the crisis. “I met her two times, first in London and then the Czech Republic. I mentioned this problem and she told me she found some difficulties, that things were not simple but very complicated”.

“But in spite of that I feel she can do something”, he added.

His Holiness also said that to ask help for the persecuted Rohingya was not enough. “There’s something wrong with humanity’s way of thinking. Ultimately we are lacking concern for others’ lives, others’ wellbeing”, he said.

The violence has been attributed to the rise of Buddhist nationalism in Burma, a country which has started the transition to democracy. Buddhist nationalists are seen by some to perceive Muslims as a threat against their religion and the situation has been very tense for some years.

Myanmar denies that its treatment of Rohingya Muslims amounts to “ethnic cleansing”, blaming Rohingya insurgents for the violence in Rakhine state, their military says it is fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians.

Violence has escalated over the last month since Rohingya militants attacked police posts in response to the Burmese troops and civilians who are, they say, attacking and killing civilians as well as burning their villages.

Around 370,000 Rohingyas have escaped to Bangladesh during the last month. There are reports that thousands may be trapped on boats in their attempt to escape the persecution.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who is the leader of the National League for Democracy of Myanmar and is widely recognised as the de facto leader of Myanmar, has been widely criticised for remaining silent on the sectarian violence in the country. Analysts say that Suu Kyi does not want to alienate voters ahead of the November election.

Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She chose non violence as an expedient political tactic, made evident by her statement in 2007 where she said: “I do not hold to non violence for moral reasons, but for political and practical reasons”.

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