Wednesday, February 05, 2014

An open and urgent letter to all Buddhists, would-be Buddhists, students & teachers of Indic philosophies and traditions…and all those who fancy themselves Stoic-like cosmopolitan citizens.

What follows is a copy of a letter I sent out to a bunch of folks and posted on FB as well.
Image found here. 

Dear friends, 

You may or may not know about the dire situation for Rohingya Muslims in Burma, including acts of violence, lethal and otherwise, directed against them by (ostensible, self-identified…) Buddhists in the country. Attempts at ethnic cleansing are increasingly successful and the threat of genocide is very real. I’ve posted links (thanks to Michael J. Perry) to two recent pieces below by Graeme Wood from the New Republic that strike me as helpful in this regard: providing the relevant information with a keen sense of the possibility that matters might quickly and precipitously get even more reprehensible (I’m not an expert on Burma/Myanmar, so I happily defer to anyone better informed and more knowledgeable on this topic*).

I write to ask what we might do, individually and/or collectively, to voice our pleas and concerns to the relevant actors involved, as well as government officials and bodies charged with oversight and responsibility for affairs in matters of this kind (or perhaps there is some existing organization or action we can support or join). I well realize that our “action-at-distance” as it were may fall far short of what’s needed to quickly alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya and stop the acts of intimidation and violence. Nonetheless, it seems unconscionable to remain passive and thus coordinated action of some kind: letters, a petition, what have you, is a moral and political necessity. While I have experience in political activism on the ground in local fora, I’m not at all experienced as to what to do in response to a global situation of this sort, so I’m hoping others can proffer suggestions and concrete help. [See “update” below.]

Thanks for your time and attention.

Best wishes, 
* The extent of my knowledge is found in this recent post on Buddhists and violence. 

Please read: “A Countryside of Concentration Camps” and “Ethnic Cleansing Just Went from Bad to Worse in Burma,” by Graeme Wood in the New Republic. 

Update: Here is a link to a page at the U.S. Campaign for Burma (thanks to Mark Lance) to contact President Obama. And here is a link for contacting your Congressional representative regarding proposed legislation. Finally, here is the page on the Rohingya and ethnic cleansing.


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