Late at night on March 20, 2013, in central Myanmar’s Meiktila, hundreds of Muslim men, women and children tried to escape Buddhist mobs by hiding in, of all places, a monastery.
The abbot at the Yadanar Oo monastery was U Withudda, who sheltered the families even as attackers arrived at the doors and demanded that they be sent out.
‘I told them, ‘I cannot let them out because they will get in trouble. If you want, kill me first so I can save them,’ he told the Irrawaddy.
They stayed there for four days as violence between Buddhists and Muslims plagued the city.
For his live-saving efforts, U Withudda was one of three Myanmar monks honored with the World Harmony Award on May 27 in Oslo. The award was given by the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and the other two recipients were U Seindita, the founder of Asia Light Foundation in Pyin Oo Lwin, and U Zawtikka of Yangon’s Oo Yin Priyati monastery, the Irrawaddy reported.
The monks were honored at the three-day “Oslo Conference to End Myanmar’s Persecution of the Rohingya.”
One man who spent those long nights in U Withudda’s monastery was 48-year-old Mg Mg, who told the Irrawaddy that the monastery is the reason he and everyone else there is alive today.
“At that time, we were helpless. We could not depend on the help of police of local administrators.”
Photo: Facebook/Maung Zarni