Voices of Courage: Facing Extremism in Myanmar and Wherever It Arises

April 28th

Date details +
  • $25 Full Price
  • $100 Sponsor
Room: not specified


Support a people under siege.
Learn from leaders who call out hate.
Promote courageous dialogue in any conflict.

The humanitarian crisis of the Rohingya people rages on. Government forces have violently driven nearly one million people, mostly Muslim, out of Myanmar and into refugee camps in Bangladesh. And a faction of ultra-nationalist Buddhists backs the military’s brutal suppression—now being investigated as genocide.

Branded “the Face of Buddhist Terror” by Time magazine, the monk Ashin Wirathu is the most outspoken of these Buddhist leaders. He argues that the presence of Muslims in Myanmar (formerly Burma) threatens Buddhism itself—even though Muslims make up only five percent of the population—and they must be eradicated before they overwhelm the Buddhist majority.

In response, other Buddhist leaders are working tirelessly to counter hate speech and promote the Buddha’s admonition never to cause harm. On Sunday, April 28th, a panel of these leaders will gather in Boulder at a daylong event focused on the Rohingya crisis—and transcending hate and extremism in any conflict.

Panelists will include the Venerable Ashin Issariya, a courageous Burmese leader and founder of the All Burma Monks Alliance. He participated in Myanmar’s 2007 Saffron revolution and was exiled for years for his human rights work. The panel also includes Hena Zuberi, Director of the Burma Task Force and Editor in Chief of muslimmatters.org, where she writes on issues related to Muslims living in the West. And Khin Mai Aung, an American civil rights attorney with roots in Myanmar and Rakhine, who has written extensively about the Rohingya crisis with articles appearing in the New York Times and Lion’s Roar.

Hozan Alan Senauke, Vice Abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center, will facilitate the panel discussion. He is co-founder of the Buddhist Humanitarian Project, which is dedicated to supporting the Rohingya refugees. Funds raised at the conference will go to BHP.

Following a short meditation period, panelists will present on the current situation in Myanmar and their work to help the Rohingya people. After lunch we'll explore the roots of extremism and how to promote courageous dialogue in times of division and hatred. There will also be opportunities to support the Buddhist Humanitarian Project and its work in relieving the suffering of Rohingya refugees.

Net proceeds go to the Buddhist Humanitarian Project. Lunch is included. Various ticket options are available for purchase here.


Saturday, April 27th: The Venerable W. Film Screening

Boulder Shambhala Center, 5pm, FREE!

The evening before the conference, please join us for a special screening of the acclaimed documentary The Venerable W., which provides much insight into the ongoing crisis of the Rohingya people. The film intimately and graphically illuminates the views and influence of Venerable Ashin Wirathu, the firebrand monk inciting unspeakable violence.

This film is the third in a “trilogy of evil” series from director Barbet Schroeder. New York Times critic Glenn Kenny writes, “The monk is perhaps the least showy of the subjects of Schroeder’s trilogy. He speaks quietly, although his mouth often twists into an expression of petulant smugness. But in a sense, this is the most terrifying of Schroder’s portraits.”

Following the screening, there will be a reception with light appetizers and drinks and a Q+A with Sunday’s panelists.

Click here to watch the trailer.

These events are presented by the Boulder Shambhala Center and sponsored by Boulder Weekly and Naropa University.