United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon yesterday expressed concern that Buddhist communities in Myanmar and Sri Lanka are "being swept up by a rising tide of extremist sentiment against other groups".
"This betrays the peaceful teachings of the founder, Lord Buddha," he said in his speech at the opening of the UN Alliance of Civilisations forum in Bali.
His remarks are some of the toughest to date from a global leader on rising Buddhist nationalism, which in both countries has been led by extremist monks and seen violence targeting Muslims and Christians.
Mr Ban noted how in Myanmar, polarisation between the Buddhist majority and Muslims was threatening its democratic transition. "The country's leaders must speak out against divisive incitement," he said. "They must promote interfaith harmony. And they must stand against impunity for provocations and violence."
He added that it was "critical to resolve the issue of status and citizenship of the minority Muslim community in Rakhine State, commonly known as the Rohingyas".
Mr Ban also expressed alarm at the rising level of attacks against minorities in Sri Lanka, and called on the government and faith leaders to respond and ensure the safety and security of all.
This article was first published on August 30, 2014.
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