Press Releases

                                                                                                                            2 June 2004

    Secretary-General, in Message on Buddhism’s Day of Vesak, Calls For Sustained Campaign to Rebuild Trust between Different Faiths, Cultures

    NEW YORK, 1 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the “International Recognition of the Day of Vesak Ceremony” in New York, 1 June:

    It gives me great pleasure to send my warmest greetings to this international observance of the Day of Vesak.

    Every year on this day, we mark the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha some 2,500 years ago, and pay tribute to the contributions that Buddhism has made to the world’s search for peace.

    This year, I would also like to use this observance to express my concern that many recent events -- including the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the war in Iraq, and the continuing tragic conflict between Israelis and Palestinians -- have aggravated tensions between followers of some of the world’s major religions.

    We must get away from stereotyping, generalizations and preconceptions, and take care not to tarnish an entire people, an entire region, or an entire religion for the sins of individuals.  As Buddhism teaches, we must deal with all our fellow human beings fairly and objectively, while refraining from malice, aggression and harm.  Tolerance is essential, but it is not enough.  We must go further, and make a positive effort to learn more about each other, and to discover what is best in each other’s beliefs and traditions.

    On this Day of Vesak, let us pledge to do our part in what must be a sustained campaign to rebuild trust and confidence between people of different faiths and cultures.  Let us recognize, as Buddhism does, our essential interdependence.  And let us follow this path as partners.  In that spirit, I wish you all happy Vesak.

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