MANDALAY – More than 30,000 Buddhist monks met on January 15 at the Maha Atulawaiyan Monastry in Mandalay to form a new association to safeguard religion.
The meeting, attended by senior monks Agga Maha Pandita Ashin Tilawkar Biwuntha and Sitagu Sayadaw Dr. Ashin Nyanissara, announced the formation of the Nationality and Religion Safeguarding Association.
At the start, all the monks stood for 30 seconds in silent tribute to the monks who died in the 2007 Saffron Revolution and all those who lost their lives during the violence in Rakhine in 2012 and 2013.
Senior monk Sitagu Sayadaw Dr. Ashin Nyanissara referred to Myanmar’s Ayeyawady River in a call for national unity:
“Take example of the Ayeyawady River. Many rivers such as Maykha, Malikha, Shweli, Dokhtawady, Chindwin and so on flow into the Ayeyawady and water from all those different rivers mixes and reaches the state of oneness. Different names exist no longer and all the water flows together. Unity is important for peace. So, please keep your spirit like that of the Ayeyawady,” said Sitagu Sayadaw Dr. Ashin Nyanissara, who is also chancellor of the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy.
The meeting focused on the need to protect nationality and religion, as well as discussing current politics, legislation, citizen rights, ethnic issues and the importance of the media.
The Buddhist monks at the meeting also supported the consensus of a prior meeting held in Yangon that advocated passing a law to safeguard nationality and religion.
“Parliament needs to pass the nationality safeguarding law for our nationality and religion. We need to include the nine points discussed in Yangon,” said Ashin Tilawkar Biwuntha.
The monks issued a nine-point statement on their consensus opinion after the meeting, namely:
– To defend the 1982 Citizenship Law;
– To support amending the constitution in long-term national interests;
– To object to local and foreign organisations that support people not recognised as ethnic groups by the existing constitution and that threaten sovereignty of the country;
– To review and take action against MP’s who are not Myanmar ethnics; to revoke voting rights of white-card (temporary citizenship card) holders so as to protect the rights of citizens and ethnics;
– To thank the country’s leaders, heads of state and MP’s for their encouragement of the Nationality and Religion Safeguarding Association;
– To urge the media to report correctly and accurately according to journalism ethics so that the image of nationality and religion is not damaged;
– To urge Myanmar people to refrain from those reactions and instigation that can damage the image of Myanmar,
– To announce the Nationality and Religion Safeguarding Association as an independent organisation;
– To strive for the emergence of the nationality safeguarding law to protect vulnerable Myanmar people.
“I am glad that we all work together for the continuity of Buddha Sasana. I would like to encourage to continue the efforts with great affection towards living beings and love for nationality and religion. Our Buddha said monks should not ignore the welfare of laymen who are donating to them. When the people are among fire, monks should drop their beads and try to put out the fire first,” said Bhaddanda Kaysara from Pan Ai Kan Swal Pariyatti Monastry in Hlaing Township, Yangon.