Buddhist Relief Mission Statement in Support of Monks' Protest in Burma

September 19, 2007

Buddhist Relief Mission expresses full support and solidarity with the Alliance of All Burmese Monks as members of the Sangha across Burma carry out their patam nikkujjana kamma (overturning their almsbowls), and refusing alms from members of the ruling military regime and their families.

This is a struggle between dhamma and adhamma (justice and injustice). When recalcitrant lay Buddhists intentionally harm and abuse the Buddha Sasana, as they are doing in Burma today, the Vinaya, monks' rules of discipline, prescribes Patam nikkujjana kamma as the proper response of the Sangha. This is perhaps the most effective rebuke of the oppressive military regime.

The Burmese military took power in 1988, when a democratic uprising was suppressed. At that time, the army shot and killed thousands of unarmed demonstrators, including many monks. Since then, the regime has misruled the country with increasing harshness, carrying out ethnic cleansing on the borders and genocide against numerous minorities.

Once before, in 1990, the sangha declared patam nikkujjana kamma. This peaceful protest was met with unfeeling cruelty by the authorities. More than 130 monasteries were raided, and at least 300 monks were forcibly disrobed, arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. The world must not let this happen again.

Already, in Arakan State, the military has responded to this peaceful boycott with teargas, beatings, and gunfire, and we fear that protesting monks all over Burma are in great danger.

We call on the international Buddhist community support the courageous and compassionate monks in Burma who, as they chant the Metta Sutta and other Paritta, are asking for justice and an end to the unspeakable oppression of the military rule in their impoverished and desperate country.

Ken and Visakha Kawasaki,