Every day in Burma, monks, doctors, teachers, even a popular reggae singer from Yangon, set examples of unity and cooperation, in contrast to headlines about violence between Buddhists and Muslims. On April 9, the U.S. Institute of Peace, in partnership with the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, held a screening of a film series highlighting such stories, Portraits of Diversity, followed by a discussion of how these examples can inform support for the country’s transition.

Portraits of Diversity
Pictured from left to right, Priscilla Clapp, The Venerable Tayzar Dipati, Khin Khin, Dr. Emma Leslie

The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies commissioned the series of video portraits, directed by Kannan Arunasalam in 2014, to highlight Burma’s diverse religious and ethnic communities and the rich interfaith connections and engagement taking place around the country. The community leaders portrayed share analysis and insights into the threat of inter-communal violence and illustrate the capacity for peace leadership. USIP has drawn on the films for training on engagement across religious, ethnic and other social divides.

A question-and-answer session following the screening featured Venerable Tayzar Dipati, a monk portrayed in the film whose chief role is to care for patients with HIV and to run the monastery of young monks. Venerable Dipati has responded to rumors and built relationships with Muslims in his community in order to prevent violence from breaking out. He was joined by Executive Director of the Cambodia-based Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies who has led and supported initiatives for conflict transformation, peace and development throughout Asia since 1993.

View the trailer below.

Speakers

  • The Rev. Susan Hayward, Opening Remarks
    Interim Director for Religion and Peacebuilding, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • The Venerable Tayzar Dipati
    Leader of a Monastery in Shwebo, Northeast of Mandalay
  • Dr. Emma Leslie
    Executive Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Priscilla Clapp, Moderator
    Former U.S. Chief of Mission and permanent Charge d’Affaires to Burma; retired Minister-Counselor in the U.S. Foreign Service, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Asia Society

Related Publications

The Current Situation in Burma

The Current Situation in Burma

Monday, April 2, 2018

The country’s transition from military rule to representative democracy is complicated by entrenched political and economic interests, religious and ethnic cleavages, and difficult negotiations with an array of armed groups to settle decades-long internal conflicts. As peace talks drag on, the nation’s parliamentary election, slated to take place in late 2015, threatens to exacerbate tensions within and among groups. In addition, the constitution unfairly prohibits  the main opposition candid...

Religion

Understanding China’s Response to the Rakhine Crisis

Understanding China’s Response to the Rakhine Crisis

Thursday, February 8, 2018

By: Adrienne Joy

Following attacks on police posts by an armed Rohingya militia in August 2017, reprisals by the Burmese government have precipitated a humanitarian crisis. More than six hundred thousand Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, where they face an uncertain future. Publicly stating that the root cause of conflict in Rakhine is...

Global Policy; Human Rights

Reframing the Crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Reframing the Crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Monday, January 22, 2018

By: Gabrielle Aron

In the aftermath of attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and subsequent military clearance operations, two competing narratives have emerged. One frames the attacks as a critical threat to national security and the majority cultural-religious status quo. The second focuses on the human cost...

Global Policy; Human Rights

View All Publications