Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The military junta is using Buddhism as a propaganda tool, this according to monks and analysts after the Fourth World Buddhist Summit ended in Yangon. Despite repeated threats of boycott, Myanmar’s military was able to host the event.
Isolated internationally for its many human rights violations, the military regime focused on the event which official media described as a “landmark in the history of Buddhism”.
Official newspapers carried photos of junta members appearing with Buddhist leaders or making generous donations for the upkeep of pagodas...
enerous donations for the upkeep of monasteries and the building of pagodas, and most of whom at some point become novices or monks.
The reality is quite different. The regime does not allow monks to practice and worship their religion freely. “They [monks] are totally controlled. They are obliged to be on the side of the regime,” a diplomat said.
“When Aung San Suu Kyi—leader of the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy—went into the provinces after her release, certain temple abbots refused to receive her” for fear of being harassed by military intelligence officials, the diplomat said of the Nobel peace laureate’s short period of freedom. Currently, Ms Suu Kyi is under house arrest.
Monks and nuns do not play a socially active role in the political life of the country, primarily devoting their time to the study of sacred texts and meditation in their monasteries.
“They are given gifts to encourage them to remain calm and not get involved in politics: money and cars,” said one analyst. “The Buddhist clergy has been completely bought,” he added.
Monks who dare to criticise the regime end up in prison and are almost immediately defrocked.
According to a secret association of monks, about 400 monks are currently being held in Myanmar prisons. A superior monk, who declined to give his name, acknowledged there were many monks in prison even as the regime hosted the Buddhist summit
And Xinhua says...
The religious summit, staged by Myanmar for the first time and began on Thursday, was participated by over 1,000 monks an nuns, observers and scholars from more than 30 countries and host Myanmar.
The opening ceremony was graced by Chairman of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Senior-General Than Shwe, Prime Minister (PM) Lieutenant-General Soe Win, Lao Prime Minister Boungnang Vorachith, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Lu lay Sreng.
Observers here viewed the summit as a grand event for Myanmar during which leading Buddhist monks, researchers and scholars from across the world presented and discussed papers on a number of topics including "Universal Appeal of the Buddha Dhamma", "Buddhism and World Peace", "Buddhism and Its Relevance to the Present World", and "Buddhist Meditation and World Peace".
At the summit, common views were reached on many religious issues which contribute to enhancing understanding, friendship and cooperation among Buddhist countries.
Naturally, the Chinese story's watered down- they want that Greater Pan Asian Co prosperity whatever ... but the even does seem to have been staged...
That said, what should the response be?
Certainly, IMO, dissociation from the regime post-facto.