Interview with Abbot of Sitagu on the forthcoming ?World? Buddhist Summit in Burma

Democratic Voice of Burma, December 4, 2004

Rangoon, Burma -- DVB Khin Maung Soe Min?s interview with Abbot of Sitagu, the Reverend Nyan Nittara on the forthcoming ?World? Buddhist Summit in Rangoon.

Khin Maung Soe Min first asked the Reverend if there is any intention to invite (the Tibetan religious head) His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the summit:

Abbot of Sitagu: There is no intention for that (from our part). The participants of the summit must represent a country. Those who fled their countries need not be the representatives!

Khin Maung Soe Min: We heard that a Mahayana Buddhist sect called Nenbutsushu from Japan was supposed to jointly organise the summit with you. But after that, due to political instability in Burma, it refused to cooperate with you and withdrew its support. Is there any difficulty, especially financial difficulty for you because of that, my lord?

Abbot of Sitagu: Because of the withdrawal of Nenbutsushu, we are able to do things even more smoothly and much better. The working relation between the Burmese government and our ?Sangha Maha Nayaka? organisation becomes much better. It is much better now as there is no interference or order from the Mahayana people. Let me say to you, my disciple! They said that they will pay for the plane tickets and hotel expenses for delegates from Asia. Their supports are no more than that. The government of Burma has to pay for all other expenses. Therefore, there is nothing damaging for us because of their action.

Khin Maung Soe Min: When the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) government had finished hosting a summit for Buddhist monks from all sects in 1980, it released almost all political prisoners. Do you think or see that political prisoners including Buddhist monks will be released by the junta after your summit, my lord?

Abbot of Sitagu: What you are saying is to do with the Senior General Than Shwe. We will be mainly discussing religious matters. We won?t be discussing other matters? at this meeting. As for the question you asked a moment ago, the government of Burma has been releasing people from the prisons. You have already heard how many people are to be released. Therefore, we do not need to urge the government on this matter from and relating to this meeting?

Khin Maung Soe Min: Some observers are saying that the summit would be useful for the Burmese military junta is trying to give the impression that Burma is peaceful and prosperous. And, we have been hearing from those who respect you, your acolytes and monks, that you are gradually being placed under the exploitation of the military junta. What do you have to say about that, my lord?

Abbot of Sitagu: There is no need for me to explain. I have decided to be the servant of the religion. I am not doing this because I am a servant of someone. Whatever they say, what shall I do? I am doing this because I am keen about it personally. I have nothing to say about it.