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Testimony Speechs by Dr. Ashin Nayaka, Leading Member of International Burmese Monks Organization and Visiting Professor at Columbia University, New York

  1. Testimony at The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Public Hearing; December 3, 2007, 2:30-4:30 PM
  2. Testimony Speech at the Japanese senate; Tokyo, Japan, December 12, 2008

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Public Hearing
"After the Saffron Revolution: Religion, Repression, and the U.S. Policy Options for Burma"
Rayburn House Office Building 2200
December 3, 2007, 2:30-4:30 PM

Testimony of Ven. Ashin Nayaka, Leading Member of International Burmese Monks Organization and Visiting Professor at Columbia University

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to speak before the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. I am a Burmese Buddhist monk, a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York. I came here to be the voice of my fellow monks and be the voice of the people of Burma, who have long been denied all freedoms, including religious freedom, under one of the most repressive regimes in the world.

People all over the world have witnessed the terrible and wicked system of dictatorship imposed upon us. Through the help of international media, the world was able to see the brutality. The military regime has killed peaceful demonstrators. They have killed monks, who are highly respected by the people, as Buddhism is major religion in Burma. They have emptied monasteries, which are not only places of worship and religious functions, but also for education, maintenance of culture, and caring for HIV/AIDS patients and orphans, duties which the regime has neglected. Burma's military regime have forcibly disrobed monks, beaten them, and assaulted them very badly.

They have committed crimes against humanity and these recent brutalities will stand as a great tragedy in our long history of monastic Buddhism. This wicked regime committed these atrocities in full view of the world. They are shameless, seeking only to systematically oppress us for decades to come.

We are all deeply concerned about the fate of fellow monks, including U Gambira who led the recent protest in Burma, as well as all political prisoners. I hope that international governments and the United Nations pressure the military regime to immediately grant the ICRC access to these detainees and release them immediately.

What I wish to say is: the spiritual authority of Burma resides in the Dhamma (Teachings of Buddha). The Dhamma in Burma is both protected and practiced primarily in the minds and hearts of the monks and nuns in our country. Of course, the lay people practice Dhamma too. But the symbol of hope in our society is the Sanghas (the order of monastic).

The religious order of monks has been the face of Burma since Buddhism was introduced into the nation over a thousand years ago, and its influence can be seen everywhere, from the hillsides dotted with pagodas, the monks in their saffron yellow robes, and the monasteries in almost every village that shape the character of the villagers and their institutions. At present the Sangha is the enemy of the regime. If this continues unaddressed, further bloody confrontation is unavoidable. Our spiritual obligation is to freedom, not to silence or submission.

Today, we know that several leading monks in Burma are still on the run. We do not know with any accuracy how many monks have been killed, how many were forcibly disrobed. We do not know how many are in prison. We do not know how many monks have been taken to secret locations. There is a terrible secrecy and silence over Burma.

We are at a critical moment in history. What we do know is that a number of prominent monasteries have been closed. Others emptied. Serious questions remain: where have all the monks gone? Where has the global outcry gone? This should be of grave concern for all governments worldwide. Strong, effective and timely intervention by the international community is urgently needed. This is a moral crisis that Americans must stand for.

The Saffron Revolution is not a power struggle, but a conflict between peace and moral freedom on one side and the forces of political repression on the other. Participation in this spiritual protest is justifiable in Buddhism. The religious policy of the Saffron Revolution, this Buddhist revolution of the conscience, continues to be one of peace. Throughout the Burmese history when the country was in crisis or when the people faced emergency, the spiritual leaders played a significant role in creating and maintaining peace and stability in society. But monks today are facing great challenges.

The very existence of monastic life is being destroyed by the evil military regime and it will face bloodshed again, if the international community, including UN Security Council, cannot find a collective and effective way to stop this evil regime from killings and arrests. As long as the UN Security Council could not make the regime to engage in a meaningful and time-bound dialogue with democratic opposition, led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, for peaceful transition to democracy, the spiritual revolution of monks and people will continue and another brutal crack down will be unavoidable.

The light of the Dhamma is our guide in this profound expression of spiritual revolution that inspires the hearts of millions around the world. The light of your dignity and your commitment to freedom is our source of strength. Since the non-violent approach is our way, we have concluded that we will remain peaceful under all circumstances. We firmly believe that our commitment to the Dhamma will defeat these unjust rulers in Burma.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to the freedom in our country and the freedom in our own hearts. All these things Americans value and cherish. Freedom for the people of Burma cannot be denied. The cost of that freedom is the only question.

Finally, I would like to thank President Bush and First Lady, the United States Congress and the American people for their support in our struggle and also I would like to ask President Bush to make Burma his legacy of freedom.

Thank you.

Testimony Speech at the Japanese senate by Dr. Ashin Nayaka, Leading Member of International Burmese Monks Organization and Visiting Professor at Columbia University, New York

Tokyo, Japan, December 12, 2008, 11: am-1: pm

First of all, I have the honor to express my gratitude for such an opportunity to let me sound the voice of the people of Burma including the order of Burmese Buddhist monks that I myself belong to, on the dissolution of even the fundamental human rights such as "The Right of Living, the Right of Abode, and the Freedom of Faith in our homeland. As you may know, the present military junta in Burma is one of the most ruthless regimes in the world that has brutally cracked down all the democracy and human rights movements for more than four decades. At present, while I am giving this talk to you here, thousands of Burmese activists including the Buddhist monks are under severe torture in the interrogation camps and prisons of the country. I am a Buddhist monk from Burma, currently teaching as a Visiting Professor at Columbia University in New York City and also one of the active members of The International Burmese Monks' Organization that is advocating for development of Peace, Freedom and Legitimate Governance in Burma.

The last few months have witnessed all the inhuman atrocities committed by the Burmese Army. Hundreds of Buddhist monks who were just praying for "The Peace in the Country" were gunned down on the streets of Rangoon Downtown and in some major cities. Now this is the time we should be convinced that the widespread international media coverage could do nothing to stop their brutal policy of arresting, harassing and throwing the peaceful protesters into the jails and the notorious interrogation camps. As our democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi says, Burmese people are continuously living in the Age of Fear and Terror. I might add another word, "Diaspora."

The world has recognized all these misdeeds as the "Crimes against Humanity." Just only the sympathy is not enough. We all know that. We, 55 Million Burmese, are seriously awaiting what the International Community help us stop this military regime abandon their ruthless policy. The bloodstained exotic resorts and splendid historical sites are no more giving any pleasure but unpleasant feeling for the recent bloodshed in our beautiful country.

We have lost potential monastic life under the brutal military regime. We can even call it the threat to the survival of Buddhism in Burma. Many monasteries have been emptied. Hundreds of monks are running amuck, many are hiding, and a number of them have been missing. We don't know how many monks have been killed and how many are in the prisons. The Buddhist world has been gravely concerned about them. Many monks are reported to be defrocked. If the situation remains unchanged, we can be sure that there will be bloodshed again in the near future.

The emergence of "The Spiritual and Glorious Revolution" in last September 2007 has shown a significant uprising against the brutal and illegitimate rule of the junta. The Buddhist monks, turning their bagging bowls upside down, bring the meaning of their refusal to accept the alms from the ruthless rulers and their servants for their earnings are unlawful and bloodstained. It has been a tradition since the time of Lord Buddha to admonish some people who are behaving against "Dhamma" (The Law).

Furthermore, the ethnic cleansing, mass killings, torture and rape of the women of the ethnic minorities across the country led to the disappearance of more than three thousand villages in the country. Millions refugees fled the country. Millions are under the tyranny one of the largest armies in the world. I am a native of western Burma, where Rakhine, historically known as Arakanese, have inhabited for centuries. Our ethnic group also faced all these oppressions, especially the Policy of Myanmarization. On the other hand, in the helpless condition we are unable to resist an ethnic pressure from the west and the northwestern part of our country has been overrun by the alien immigrants since the colonial days.

Immediately we have to consider about the monks who are fleeing away to neighboring Thailand, India and Bangladesh. Some are reported to have died on the way in the jungles. In such condition of tragedy, Burma will continue to be a crucible for its native people if the international community does not take an appropriate action against the military regime.

The crises and challenges we are facing are the results of totalitarian rule in Burma. Though of these challenges, our people have devoted their lives for freedom and democracy. With our faith in "Dharma," making "Dhamma" as our way, taking refuge in "Dhamma," we believe that the victory is on our side. However, as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi says, we are well prepared for the worst.

Your government's commitment to human rights and democracy has been and will always be the hope for great change for our country into a prosperous and free society. What we hope besides that is the restraints on your financial and technical assistance to Burma. Those who will enjoy all the fruits are not the people but these generals. We also want to request other governments not to support the regime. Your financial assistance will strengthen the iron grip of the junta. These generals after the September incidents implemented more rigid laws that brought the worst human right-abuses. Our another request to you is to persuade as well as put pressure on them to stop their brutal act and not to stand against the people. Most immediate action to put on the junta is to allow the ICRC investigation of the condition of the Buddhist monks in Burma.

The change in the policy of a leading country of Asia on Burma's cause will be recorded as a historical development of the peoples of two countries. Last but not the least I would like to say that we are the friends. We Burmese have proved that we could forget all the agonies in the past. What we are looking forward is The Coming of Japan, bringing Hope, Peace, Freedom and Assistance to the development of the lives of our people as the real friend of Burmese people. Thank you.