PressTV, Jul 6, 2014
Dharmsala, India -- The Dalai Lama has called on Buddhists in Myanmar and Sri Lanka to stop violence against Muslims.
In a Sunday speech to mark his 79th birthday in northern India, the Dalai Lama denounced the violence in both Buddhist-majority countries targeting Muslims as unacceptable.
“I urge the Buddhists in these countries to imagine an image of Buddha before they commit such a crime,” the Buddhist leader said.
The comments came a day after witnesses said more than 70 police were just standing by and watching as a Buddhist mob set fire to a school and other buildings in a Muslim neighborhood of Mandalay, which is Myanmar’s second largest city.On July 2, an assault by Buddhist monks on Muslims left two people dead and wounded 14 others in Mandalay.
Violence by extremist Buddhists against Rohingya Muslims has killed hundreds of them and forced many more to flee the country.
Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar account for about five percent of the country’s population of nearly 60 million. They have been persecuted and faced torture, neglect, and repression since the country’s independence in 1948.
The UN recognizes the Rohingya Muslims living in Myanmar’s Rakhine State as one of the world’s most persecuted communities.
The Myanmar government has been repeatedly criticized by human rights groups for failing to protect the Rohingya Muslims. International bodies and human rights organizations accuse the government of turning a blind eye to the violence.
Critics have also slammed Sri Lanka’s government for its failure to protect the country’s Muslim minority against Buddhist extremists.
Last month, at least two Muslims were killed and dozens more injured in an attack by a hardline group known as Bodu Bala Sena, or the Buddhist Power Force.
Sri Lanka's Muslims constitute 10 percent of the country's 20 million population.