November 1st, 2010
Nai Banya Hongsar : Editor’s Note: We would like to introduce our readers to the third installment in our “Burma Tranformed”. In this installment our writer discusses the role of Burmese monks in Burma’s future national reconciliation process.
Buddhist monks played central roles in Burmese history both before and after the country became independent from colonial rule; for this reason Burma’s military junta’s appalling treatment of monks should be reviewed by the international community. Many monks have been killed and imprisoned in recent years for their political opinions. Nation-building in Burma cannot be accomplished without the contribution of religion leaders like Buddhist monks. Buddhist monks are the sons of million of Burmese parents. They have the right to have their own opinions on the social issues that impact their parents and siblings and they also have the moral responsibility as monks to protect private citizens from wrong doing.
This essay will examine the military junta’s treatment of monks, many of whom have been vibrant political activists in Burma, between 1988 and 2010. The appropriate role of monks in Burmese politics will be covered. I will explore the role of Buddhist monks as mediators during a reconciliation between democratic forces, including ethnic leaders and the ruling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).
Monks have long held an important role in Burma’s politics. Buddhist monks served the best interests of kings and the nation as far back as the 10th century. Burma became a Buddhist community under Mon monks in the 7th century. Monks have a long history of being victims of political strife in Burma. In 1757 Burmese kings overthrew the Mon empire, and brutally slaughtered over three thousand Mon monks in a ‘Fire Burn”, in a group near Rangoon. The current name of the location is called ‘Thin Gyun Chun – the island of burning robes”. Read more…