WASHINGTON - October 5 –A diverse group of Buddhist communities are uniting and taking to the streets this weekend (October 6) in support of Burma's monks and nuns. Vigils and peace walks are planned for major cities including Barcelona (Spain), Chiang Mai (Thailand), London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Chicago. The focus of the events will be at 12 noon (local times) this Saturday, October 6, as part of the "International Day of Action for a Free Burma." A list of vigils can be found here.
Leaders from many Buddhist traditions have spoken out, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Organizations such as the International Network for Engaged Buddhists (based in Thailand) and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (based in the U.S.) have also declared their support for the monks and the people of Burma. Many of these statements have been collected here. Since Friday, September 28, Buddhists have organized vigils in more than 20 locations, including Tel Aviv, Milan, and Washington, D.C. Many have worn red (the color of the Burmese monastic robe) to show their solidarity with the monks. At some vigils, such as one held in front of the United Nations in New York on September 29, participants chant the Metta Sutra (an classic Buddhist text on loving kindness for all beings) which the monks in Burma have taken as their inspiration.
Dr. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF), states, "We are deeply saddened by the events in Burma. Buddhism in the West is exactly about taking action for liberation of Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike in any place where people suffer at the hand of hatred. We intend to continue in the unwavering commitment to the practice of nonviolence and of loving kindness that our brothers and sisters in Burma have so courageously demonstrated. We believe this is the only way that true peace and justice can take root in Burma." Rev. Alan Senauke, associate director of BPF and an ordained Soto Zen priest, states, "This is an historical moment of opportunity and danger in Burma. The function of a movement here and in Asia is to show the world, the activists in Burma, and the junta that people everywhere are watching and supporting a movement of human rights and national reconciliation, and that a transition to democracy will succeed."
About the Buddhist Peace Fellowship: The mission of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF), founded in 1978, is to serve as a catalyst for socially engaged Buddhism. BPF's programs, publications, and chapters link Buddhist teachings of wisdom and compassion with progressive social change. The organization is comprised of more than 4,000 members and 35 chapters across the U.S. BPF is an affiliate of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the International Network of Engaged Buddhists.
Additional note from Jane:
Amnesty International is here and on their site you can download an urgent action sheet for the detained protestors.
From the BBC: Burmese Struggle Goes Underground