10/16/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES - ASIA

Young people from all over Asia in Mindanao, for peace and interreligious dialogue

by Santosh Digal
The leaders of 90 youth movements, belonging to different religions and ethnicities, have met on the island, the theater of a decades-long war between the army and the MILF. An appeal to the Filipino government to resume talks with the Islamic rebels.

Davao City (AsiaNews) - Promoting "peace and collaboration among the different faiths" is the objective of a meeting among 90 leaders of youth movements for Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians, and indigenous communities, from 16 different Asian countries, who met in Davao from October 12 until today. The summit was organized by the World Conference of Religions for Peace, the largest international organization working on behalf of interreligious cooperation and dialogue, in collaboration with the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace, and the Religions for Peace Philippines Youth Network.

The results of the work will be presented at a conference scheduled in Manila from tomorrow, October 17, until October 21: it will see the participation of Filipino president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and will focus attention on the problems of Mindanao. And it was precisely to the reality of the island, the theater of bloody conflicts between the army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that the young people dedicated part of their discussion, emphasizing the role of "peacemaker" that belongs to young people, who "through common action" can become a "source of hope" for the country.

In a press release published during the conference, the leaders of the religious movements emphasized that the reasons at the basis of the conflicts in Mindanao are not "peculiar to the Philippines," but can be found "in many areas of the world"; ethnic and religious tensions are "in constant growth" and represent a "constant source of threat" for safety. "The process of marginalization of the political, economic, cultural and religious identities needs to be exposed and overturned. Religious youth leaders are convinced that we need to confront this challenge and become peacemakers now. All parties must return to the path for peace before they stray too far off course and lose their way back."

The statement also expresses the hope for a return "to the negotiation table by the Philippine government and the MILF. The international community is paying close attention to the humanitarian crisis in Mindanao," where almost half a million refugees need food, water, and medicine.

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