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Dalai Lama condemns Buddhist attacks on Muslims in Myanmar, Sri Lanka

May 8, 2013, Associated Press

NEW DELHI, India -- The Dalai Lama has reached out to monks in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, imploring them to end recent violence towards Muslims in their countries.

<< Peaceful words: In his speech at the University of Maryland, the Dalai Lama implored Buddhist monks to stop the violent and deadly anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka and Myanmar

The Buddhist spiritual leader blamed those of his own religion for recent violent attacks in south Asia, while giving a speech at the University of Maryland.

Hundreds have died and more than 135,000 people have fled their homes in Myanmar, also known as Burma, in the past year's brutal assaults.

In Sri Lanka, Buddhist groups have recently attacked Muslim businesses.

In his speech on Tuesday, the Dalai Lama condemned all killings in the name of religion and admitted that not even Buddhists were exempt from carrying out religious attacks.

‘Killing people in the name of religion is really very sad, unthinkable, very sad,’ the Nobel Peace laureate said.

‘Nowadays even Buddhists are involved, in Burma and Sri Lanka. Buddhist monks destroying Muslim mosques or Muslim families - it's really very sad.’

Dalai Lama begged Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar to look to their own religion to end the recent escalating violence against Muslims.

'When they develop some sort of negative emotions toward the Muslim community, then please think of the face of Buddha.’

'If the Buddha is there, he will protect the Muslims, he said in the speech in front of 15,000 gathered at the University of Maryland.

However, his calming words may be in vain as Buddhists in Myanmar and Sri Lanka are predominantly Theravada Buddhists, which is separate from the Dalai Lama's Tibetan school, which means they do not answer to his authority.

Religious violence in Myanmar flared up a year ago when mobs of Buddhists armed with machetes razed thousands of Muslim homes in the western Rakhine state, leaving hundreds dead and forcing 125,000 people to flee.

That violence has since spread into a campaign against the country's Muslim community in other regions.

In March, at least 43 people were killed and 12,000 displaced in the central city of Meikhtila when Buddhist mobs rampaged through the town and police stood idly by. Most of the victims were Muslim.

Last week, one person was killed and nine others injured when Buddhists stormed a township 50 miles north of the main city Yangon, ransacking mosques and burning villages to the ground.

Sri Lanka, where 70 per cent identify themselves as Buddhists, compared to 9.7 per cent Muslim, is seeing a rise in attacks on Muslim-owned businesses and hate speeches in public places.

Groups led by Buddhist monks accuse the small Muslim minority of dominating business on the island nation and secretly sterilising Buddhists.


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