This event at the Foreign Correspondents Club next Tuesday may be of interest to New Mandala readers in Bangkok.

Saffron Revolution: Unfinished Business
A Buddhist Panel Discussion on
What Lies Ahead for Burma

Tuesday, January 15 at 8:00 pm
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand
Penthouse, Maneeya Center Building
518/5 Ploenchit Road (connected to the BTS Skytrain Chitlom station)
Cover charge for non-members: 300 Baht

In late September, the world’s collective imagination was sparked by the spectacle of thousands of Buddhist monks marching barefoot through the rain-soaked streets of Rangoon, the former capital of Burma, in an attempt of almost incomparable dignity and restraint to draw attention to the desperate daily plight of ordinary Burmese.

Rather than acknowledge any responsibility for the state of the nation and the economy, or use the opportunity to take advice from some of the wisest elements in Burmese society, the military government declared war on what it attempted to dismiss as “politicized” members of the sangha, both old and young.

After days beefing up the Rangoon garrison, the junta laid siege to sacred monasteries, shooting, bludgeoning and violating the venerable communities within. Many monks who were not forcibly disrobed at the time shed their robes and fled.

Although pretty much everybody in Burma is used to suffering, the horrifying crimes committed against the monks in particular have laid bare the false piety of the junta. The atrocities will have far-reaching consequences, not least inside the military which contains countless families that would normally consider themselves devout Buddhists.

As the United Nations and diplomatic community flop around ineffectually as usual before Burma’s Teflon-coated generals, the Buddhist community is continuing to spread the message of brotherhood, restraint, reconciliation and understanding.

Bringing the FCCT up to speed at this special panel discussion will be:

– Sayardaw U Pannya Vamsa, an 80-year-old abbot based in Penang , Malaysia , who is chairman of the International Burmese Monks Organization (IBMO). The body was formed in Los Angeles in October.
– Venerable Abbot U Uttara, 49, head of the Sasana Ramsi Vihara in London, and president of the Punna Ramsi Vihara trust in Holland , the Dhamma Ramsi Buddhist Community in Denmark , the Buddha Dhamma Ramsi Trust in Finland and the Buddha Sasana Ramsi Buddhist Trust in Germany .

The two venerable Burmese monks enjoy relatively high profiles in the international community, and will be accompanied on the night by one of Thailand’s most prominent social critics, Acharn Sulak Sivaraksa