23 November 2019
Cox’s Bazar – The second High-Level Summit of Buddhist and Muslim Leaders convened over 20 Buddhist and Muslim leaders across South and Southeast Asia to discuss current needs and efforts across the region in order to overcome violent extremism and hindrances to just and inclusive societies. This meeting reaffirms the leaders commitment to the ideals outlined in the historic 2015 Yogyakarta Statement of Shared Values and Commitments between Muslims and Buddhists to overcome extremism and advance societal peace with justice.
Religious leaders, including women and youth leaders, play an important role in shaping societies and values across Asia. This includes dedicated work that increases understanding among their communities, and breaks down stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination and hatred. This High-Level meeting, hosted by Religions for Peace Bangladesh, continued to develop inter- and intra-faith relations between Buddhist and Muslim actors by identifying challenges related to Buddhist-Muslim relations and ways of further strengthening this work. The participants identified shared core values and primary narratives of Buddhism and Islam relating to respect for human dignity, non-discrimination, peaceful coexistence, and shared well-being. This was further strengthened by the design of concrete actions to make them into reality.
Highlighted discussions during the meeting related to challenges faced by minority religious groups and the impact of regional conflicts such as the Rohingya refugee situation. Participants noted the role of the minorities, lack of adequate knowledge of religion and the difficulties faced by the host communities as some related challenges. Religious leaders can be well-equipped and position to address drivers of human rights abuses and marginalization of minority communities.
The participants concluded that the values embedded in the Yogyakarta Statement must be applied by religious actors to promote mutual understanding and tolerance amongst Buddhist and Muslim communities. As a key outcome, a task force to advance one of the seven shared values embodied in the Yogyakarta Statement on “Living in Harmony with the Environment” was formed, with a focus on Bangladesh. This effectively puts forward a thematic approach for future activities of the Buddhist and Muslim forum.
About the International Forum of Buddhist-Muslim Relations (BMF) & The Yogyakarta Statement
The Yogyakarta Statement was developed in 2015 by Buddhist and Muslim leaders representing 15 countries. The Statement reaffirms shared fundamental values between the two religions and emphasizes that both traditions, “respect the sacredness of life and inherent dignity of human existence, which is the foundation of all human rights without any distinction as to race, color, language or religion.” The High-Level summit was held in March 2015 in Indonesia and sponsored by the International Forum on Buddhist-Muslim Relations. Currently the International Forum on Buddhist Muslim Relations Core Group members include Religions for Peace (RfP), International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Persyarikatan Muhammadiyah (PM) and The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.
K V Soon (Vidyananda)
Executive Committee Member,
International Network of Engaged Buddhists (BMF Core Group Member)
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