Tibet's spiritual leader in exile, the Dalai Lama, condemned Buddhist attacks on Muslims in Myanmar and Sri Lanka on Tuesday, calling religious violence "unthinkable."
The Buddhist leader delivered remarks to 15,000 people at the University of Maryland, pleading for an end to ethnic violence in Myanmar which has displaced 135,000 people and killed hundreds over the past year.
"Killing people in the name of religion is really very sad, unthinkable, very sad," the Dalai Lama said. "Nowadays even Buddhists now involved, in Burma and Sri Lanka also. Buddhist monks ... destroy Muslim mosques or Muslim families. Really very sad."
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The Dalai Lama, whose name is Tenzin Gyatso, heads the Tibetan school of Buddhism, and has no authority over Buddhists in Sri Lanka or Myanmar who follow a different branch of Buddhism called Theravada, according to Reuters.
"When they develop some sort of negative emotions toward the Muslim community, then please think (of) the face of Buddha," the Nobel Peace laureate said.
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The New York-based Human Rights Watch has reported on ethnic violence in Myanmar, also known as Burma, and accused the government, local politicians and Buddhist monks of engaging in "a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya that continues today through the denial of aid and restrictions on movement" in the Rakhine state.
The government in Myanmar denied the charges.
In March, sectarian violence in Meikhtila, a central Myanmar town, killed 44 people and displaced about 13,000 people, mostly Muslims.