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University of San Francisco to Honor Buddhist Monks Who Fought for Democracy

The Buddhist Channel, Dec 5, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (USA) -- The University of San Francisco will honor the Buddhist monks of Burma (Myanmar) for their courage and nonviolent demonstrations against the tyrannical Burmese military earlier this year, by awarding them with an honorary doctorate at commencement ceremonies on Friday, Dec. 14.

A representative of the monks, Sayadaw U Kovida, will accept the degree on their behalf and deliver the commencement address. He himself was imprisoned by the military junta after participating in 1988 pro-democracy demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship.

In September of this year, thousands of Burmese Buddhist monks protested peacefully against their country's repressive military regime, prompting a brutal response from the government. Thousands of monks were beaten and arrested, and many were tortured and killed.

"We honor the monks of Burma to help keep the Burmese struggle for democracy in the minds and hearts of those of us who enjoy the freedoms they are struggling to achieve," said USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J. "These are extraordinary, modern-day heroes and persons of faith committed to building a better world, even at the risk of arrest, beatings, and death. These are the kind of people we hope our graduates will be."

The monks exemplify USF's moral commitment to educate minds and hearts to change the world. The Jesuit, Catholic University draws a comparison between these monks and the six Jesuit priests killed in El Salvador [with their housekeeper and her daughter] 18 years ago, also for outspoken criticisms of an equally repressive government. USF has previously honored the slain Jesuits of El Salvador; it now honors the monks of Burma for their courage, compassion, and commitment to democracy in the face of a brutal military dictatorship.

Ma Soe Yein Sayadaw U Kovida, a highly respected Buddhist monk living in exile in a New York monastery, will accept the degree on behalf of all the Burmese monks. Originally from Burma, he is a senior monk who has a history of standing against the military junta.

The graduation ceremony will take place at 3:30 p.m. Friday, December 14 at St. Ignatius Catholic Church on the USF campus located at 650 Parker Ave. (at Fulton Street), San Francisco, 94118.

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