Thich Quang Do calls on UN to take emergency action on Burma

The Buddhist Channel, Sept 28, 2007

Venerable Thich Quang Do, the 2006 Rafto Prize Laureate, calls on United Nations to take emergency action on Burma and expresses solidarity with Buddhists' and civilians' peaceful, democratic protests.

NEW YORK, USA -- In face of the violent crackdown on peaceful protests in Burma, the Very Venerable Thich Quang Do, the 2007 Rafto Prize Laureate, Deputy leader of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) addressed a letter today to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling for urgent UN action to address the crisis in Burma and bring the military junta to cease repression against peaceful protesters.

The UBCV Deputy leader and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, 79, also addressed a message of solidarity to Buddhist monks, nuns and civilians in their peaceful movement for democracy and freedom. The two letters were sent clandestinely from the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon, where Thich Quang Do is under house arrest, to Mr. Vo Van Ai, UBCV spokesman, who is attending the UN General Assembly in New York.

In his Letter to the UN Secretary General (28.9.2007), Thich Quang Do wrote: "I express the deep alarm of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam on the violent repression of peaceful and democratic protests by the military government of Burma/Myanmar.

I appeal to the United Nations and all member states to take emergency action through all the UN's principal organs to urge the Burmese government to stop all attacks, arrests and violence against peaceful protesters and restore their human rights and political freedoms. The military junta should immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi and open a dialogue with the democratic opposition.

I urge the UN Security Council to adopt and enforce a strong Resolution at this General Assembly meeting in New York, and also call on the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to convene a special session to seek a swift solution to this tragedy. The brutal killings, beatings, arrests and disappearances we have witnessed in Burma over the past days cannot be allowed to continue".

Following news that Security forces had opened fire on the peaceful protesters, Thich Quang Do also sent this "Message of Condolence and Solidarity from the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam to the Buddhist Clergy and People of Burma" (27.9.2007):

"In the 19th Century, when the British conquered Burma, they eliminated the role of the Buddhist Supreme Patriarch, dismantled the clergy and sought to destroy the Buddhist faith. Monks and nuns in Burma rose up against this foreign aggression. Many were arrested and imprisoned. Many died in the British jails for their devotion to the cause of independence, freedom and Buddhism.

"In the 21st Century, in this very month of September 2007, the military junta opened fire on Buddhist monks and nuns as they took to the streets to protect the rights of the oppressed Burmese people. In a violent crack-down, several monks were killed and hundreds were arrested.

"The banners held high by Buddhist monks during their demonstrations spoke out their intention to relieve the sufferings of their people by the Buddhist path of non-violence: "Love and kindness must win over everything".

"These two examples of foreign or internal aggression reveal one common reality - the oppression of ordinary men and women by a ruling minority who seek desperately to cling to power, at any cost.

"On behalf of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), I express my deepest condolences, and I pray for all those who have lost their lives in their quest to protect the rights of life, civil and human rights of the Burmese people. I applaud the spirit of salvation, courage and fearlessness of the Burmese Buddhist clergy, and wholly support the Burmese people in their struggle for the most precious of all rights, the rights to freedom and democracy.

"We, the peoples of Burma and Vietnam, are bound together more closely than ever, for we are both victims of suffering and oppression under military or totalitarian dictatorships. We come together in a common aspiration for the right to life and freedom. And today, we stand side by side in the peaceful struggle for democracy and human rights. For without democracy and human rights, human beings can never fully and freely exist.

"I express my profound admiration for democracy leader and Buddhist follower Aung San Suu Kyi, who has suffered such unspeakable hardships, repression and detention, yet has never wavered in her determination to restore democracy and free the Burmese people from the military junta. I pray for Aung San Suu Kyi, that she may preserve her health and strength and lead the democracy movement to success".

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