Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama in 500 B.C. In the beginning, it had a lot of followers because it could help for peace and justice. In China, during the Han dynasty, people fed up with internal conflicts and Buddhism showed them peaceful lives that caused to spread Buddhism in China.
In Indian sub-continent, Buddhism did not stand longer; when Asoka converted to Buddhist, he contributed a lot to spread Buddhism through out Asia. He gathered together all Buddhists monks and scholars to compile Gautama’s saying.
There are two main sects of Buddhism; Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism. In Mahayana, Buddhist monk can do whatever a normal person does but, in Theravada, monk should conduct completely different from public.
In Myanmar, majority of Buddhist believe in Theravada Buddhism which had influenced after the unification of whole Burma by King Anawratha. During the British colonial period, Burmese people started their political movement under religious and social organizations. Steadily, Burmese politician used religion to gain their political goals.
After the assassination of General Aung San, Burmese politician tried to deprive rights of other religions; especially Christianity and Islam. Buddhists politicians look these two religions as danger and propagate against those. After independent, because of injustice, ethnic minority started to revolt against government. In Arakan State, Mujahedin movement fought to get Rohingyas’ fundamental rights, soon, through reconciliation, Rohingyas were approved as an indigenous ethnic race of Burma by parliament democratic government.
With nationalization by Dictator Ne Win, ethnic minorities became under persecution; especially Christians and Muslims.
Before Independence of Myanmar, there were 3 million Buddhists living in East Pakistan, Bangladesh. It was claimed that newly- born country, Bangladesh had attempted to displace the indigenous Buddhist inhabitants.
The total population of Bangladesh in 2004 is about 125 million with only 1 million Buddhists living in Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Comilla, Noakhali, Cox’s Bazar and Barisal. Buddhism is the third largest faith in Bangladesh comprising of about 0.7% of the total population. Most of Buddhist belong to the Chakma, Chak,Marma,Tenchungya and Kyang tribes which you can find in the Rakhine State too.
In order to figure out what is the real attitude of Buddhists toward Muslims in Myanmar, could you please pay attention to the following facts?
1. Before independence of Myanmar, there were 3 million Buddhists in Bangladesh, in 2004 , it became 1 million, now it is less than 1 million, where did the rest go, did Bangladesh government kill them, or they suicide themselves?
2. For Buddhists, there is full right in Rakhine State; all security forces, polices, immigrations, and office staffs are Rakhines, Rohingya are not allowed to serve.
3. Buddhists are considered as an indigenous ethnic both in Bangladesh and Myanmar, Rohingya are considered foreigners both in Bangladesh and Myanmar.
4. Several times, thousands of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh because of persecution, and Myanmar government received them as their citizens but still Rohingya are not recognized as Myanmar citizens.
5. Bangladesh government give full right to the Buddhist without discrimination, Buddhist can get high position in Bangldesh where majority is Muslim, and even Bangladesh ambassador of Myanmar is Buddhist now. Buddhist Myanmar has been oppressing Muslims of Myanmar since 1962.
6. Prime Minister Mrs. Sheikh Hasina has urged people of all faiths and communities to work shoulder to shoulder to build Bangldesh as the most peaceful and prosperous nation in South Asia. She gave the call while speaking as chief guest at a function marking the unveiling of 48-feet high statue of Lord Buddha at Dharmarajika Buddhist Monastery campus.
7. Myanmar government had already banned to build Churches and Mosques since 1962, beside, hundreds of Mosques had been already destroyed, old Mosques can not be decorated, Muslims can not pray five times prayers in all new cities and townships which establish by military regime.
8. Myanmar Buddhists’ main propaganda is “Muslims are trying to spread Islam through marriage; Christians use aids to convert Buddhist to Christain.
9. In every school, there is Buddhist worship house, in every street, there is Buddhist Dammayun, worship house, why not Church, why not Mosque?
10. Thousands of Rohigyas were killed , their houses were burnt, their properties were looted that did not satisfy them ,they announced that Rohingya should be deported to third country. Is it called Buddhist justice? Is it the essence of Buddhism?
11. Could you please study these two countries, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and focus on the essences of two religions, Buddhism and Islam. If the attitude of Myanmar Buddhists is wrong, why are you still silent then?
12. Do you really believe in Buddhism? Why don’t you practice eight fold paths?
13. If you really want to spread Buddhism, please don’t try by force, you can not convince anyone to convert, try in humble and gentle way, like Christian and Islam.
14. You can read Bible and Quran in every language of World but in Myanmar which Buddhist claim as a Buddhist Country, people can hardly find Buddhist Tripitika in Burmese language, 99% of Buddhist do not know the essence of Buddhism. Why don’t you try to educate them?
15. This is my humble advice to you that through injustice way, you can not overwhelm, you can not spread Buddhism, and injustice can not stand longer.
16. If you really believe Buddhism as a true religion, why you don’t try to show its beauty, why are you still silent regarding persecution of Rohingya in Arakan State.
17. Don’t you feel ashamed that Bangladesh can give the full right to Buddhist and Myanmar is continuously discriminating? Is it reality of Buddhism?
18. I believe Siddhartha Gautama as a great teacher, I respect him as I respect to all Prophets. I don’t see racism in his teaching, why are you insulting him in the name Buddhism?
Aung Aung Oo
Chin Pain Road
Kun Dan Quarter