The Buddha identified suffering as the primary ailment that afflicts living beings. His entire teaching aimed at the extinction of suffering. So long as we have physical bodies, which are inherently subject to suffering in a variety of forms, to eliminate it entirely seems an impossible dream. But if we cannot eliminate it, we can at least do our best to alleviate it, reduce it, minimise it whenever and wherever we can.
By waging war on the vendors, the junta perpetuates suffering, increases it, causes it to proliferate. Banning vendors from the footpaths is a distinctly un-Buddhist act. These people have no other way to make a living. To read that about 10,000 vendors have been thrown out of work, to read that at least 12 have committed suicide, and that one of them shot his wife and two children before shooting himself, is so shocking as to be inconceivable in a society that professes itself to be Buddhist.
I call on Buddhist leaders to exert pressure on the junta to stop this war on vendors and leave them alone, so that the suffering it causes may cease. Otherwise, Thailand’s claim to be a Buddhist society will stand naked before the world, revealed to be nothing more than hot air.