After Riots, Buddhists Call for Peace

DHAKA, Bangladesh – Anxiety has yet to die down over a week after crowds of Muslims torched more than a dozen temples and scores of houses in southeast Bangladesh, leaving thousands of Buddhists with the unshakeable premonition that more violence was forthcoming.

The government has repeatedly tried to assure the religious minority that they have the support and protection of the state, while the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Mizanur Rahman, apologised for the atrocities – but it seems nothing can assuage the fear of fresh violence.

“We’re shocked by this unexpected violence… yet we appeal to all to maintain peace as Buddhism preaches peace and non-violence,” Dr. Pranab Kumar Baruya, a former visiting professor of Dhaka University, told IPS during an interview at the Dharma Rajika Buddhist Monastery in Dhaka.

“We want communal harmony. We number only one million (in Bangladesh) and we need the support of the government and the majority of the people in a country where we’ve also been born and where Buddhism has been practiced for more than a thousand years,” he added.

Amid mounting pressure on the government to launch a judicial inquiry into the attacks, the country’s top business leaders have expressed anxieties that a recurrence of such incidents might have a negative impact on the country’s image, investment and international trade.

The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry asked the government on Thursday to take immediate measures to ensure “such unexpected incidents do not take place (again).”

“A sense of fear still persists among the Buddhist people and it’s the responsibility of the government to allay the fear by providing proper security and bringing the culprits to justice,” Ranjit Kumar Barua, a retired joint-secretary to the government of Bangladesh, told IPS.

Read on at The Buddhist Channel.

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