No Statement on Buddha Gaya Bombings : World Buddhists are disappointed with UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban ki Moon

Banki Moon

– by Shenali D Waduge

It was 7/7 for the world’s 4th largest religion of 350million Buddhists when on 7th July 9 bombs went off in quick succession in the Holiest Place for the Buddhists in Buddha Gaya (Bodh Gaya), India. While, no fatalities were reported apart from injuries and even the bomb placed to destroy the Buddha Statue did not explode – the news shocked Buddhists all over the world. What is disturbing more than anything else is that not a single non-Buddhist world leader condemned the attack and now into the 5th day having waited to see a statement from the Office of the United Nations, Secretary General it appears he too has decided not to issue a statement of condemnation, while UNESCO also has kept mum inspite of Buddha Gaya being a world heritage site.

Sri Lanka a predominately Buddhist country which takes pride in its Buddhist origins and civilization are quite perturbed at the silence though we are thankful at the prompt response of the Indian Prime Minister, the Congress Chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi who visited the site and the media coverage given by Indian news agencies regularly covering the story.

The interrogation by the National Investigation Agency revealed that David Headley in June 2010 claimed that the Lashkar-e-Taiba had prepared a video on the Mahabodhi Temple and was planning bomb attacks. The Indian Mujahideen revealed their plans to attack the Mahabodhi temple in October 2012. On 2 July 2013, just 5 days before the actual bombings the Intelligence Bureau had alerted the Bihar police that 2 terrorist suspects had entered Gaya town – all these point to the fact that Bodh Gaya was a terrorist target. Who actually is responsible the Indian authorities will determine after they conclude their investigations.

The more important question that disturbs us is why has the world been silent. That no statement was issued from the US is reason why its cohorts in the UK and EU did not think of issuing a statement themselves. If we remember the furor over a film on Prophet Muhammed (which incidentally was only a trailer) the entire world began issuing statements, protesting and holding mass demonstrations when most had not even seen the film.

What is perturbing about the silence of the UN Secretary General is that we are accustomed to seeing the UN Secretary General ever ready to jump and condemn Sri Lanka no sooner an event had been flagged across the world and the former UN Secretary General even issued a condolence message to a dead LTTE terrorist, we are bemused as to why being an Asian he cannot issue even a line of condemnation against the Buddha Gaya attack. We are not expecting any party to be blamed except to hear from the world leaders and the supposed custodian of peace that they too feel saddened by the Holiest Place of Buddhists becoming a victim to terrorist attacks. Would the UN Secretary not issue a statement had such an incident occurred in Vatican or Mecca?

Whilst we are grateful to all the public and the numerous other religious leaders and various organizations for issuing statements condemning the attack we cannot ignore the manner world leaders and the UN Secretary General purposely ignored the Buddha Gaya bombing. Anyone going through the UN Secretary General’s speeches and statements would also be shocked at the silence of his Office – it is simply not done, Mr. Ban-Ki Moon. Buddhism is the most compassionate religion and philosophy any human being can embrace for it enfolds the compassion and respect to even sentient beings – there is no bigger human right than that.

Shenali D Waduge
Sri Lanka