The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, has urged Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to make efforts to reduce tensions between the Muslim minority and the Buddhist community.
Speaking at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, the spiritual leader said on Monday that it is Suu Kyi’s moral responsibility, as the state counsellor and the leader of the ruling party, to try to ease tensions.
“She already has the Nobel Peace Prize, a Nobel laureate, so morally she should … make efforts to reduce this tension between the Buddhist community and Muslim community,” he said.
“I actually told her she should speak more openly,” the Dalai Lama, who is also a Nobel peace laureate, said.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won the April elections in a landslide, but it has largely remained silent on the issue of the Rohingya Muslims, who have been denied basic rights by successive Myanmar governments.
As the country began political reforms, Buddhist-Muslim violence erupted in 2012. More than 100 people were killed and 125,000 Rohingya Muslims, who have been denied citizenship, were forced to flee their homes in the western Rakhine state.
The escalating violence between the two communities during the past years has slowed down democratic reforms in the Buddhist-majority nation.
There is widespread hostility towards Rohingya Muslims in the country, including among some within Suu Kyi’s party and its supporters.
The Myanmar leader has been criticised by the rights groups for not speaking out on the Rohingya’s plight.
Suu Kyi was awarded Nobel Peace Prize for bringing democratic change in the impoverished nation.
She responded to the Dalai Lama’s calls by saying that the situation is “really complicated”.
“It’s very important for the international community to realise the sensitive situation of Rakhine state, and avoid doing anything that would make matters worse and more difficult for the new government to handle it,” Zaw Htay, Suu Kyi’s spokesman, said.
Recently, a Suu Kyi-led committee has been formed to ensure peace and development in Rakhine state. And the leader has been trying to handle the situation to the best of her ability, Htay said.
Last month, during the visit of John Kerry, the US secretary of state, Suu Kyi said that Myanmar needs “enough space” to deal with the Rohingya issue, adding that “emotive terms” are making the situation even more difficult.
Myanmar does not recognise the term Rohingya, instead it calls them “Bengalis”, as residents of the neighbouring Bangladesh.