08/22/2016, 18.26

Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Muslims back Panglong Conference to bring peace to children

The Myanmar Interfaith for Children platform issued an appeal to participants to focus on the children who are the country’s future. War between the central government and various ethnic minorities has lasted 70 years, harming children and the “country’s development”.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – The Myanmar Interfaith for Children platform has launched an appeal ahead of a peace conference set for 31 August. The latter has been organised by the government in cooperation with Myanmar’s military and the armed wings of ethnic groups fighting for autonomy.

In its appeal, the platform said that the 21st Century Panglong Conference is an opportunity "to reach an agreement for the good of the country, especially its children, who are the ones who suffer the most because of the war that has been going on now for 70 years.”

The message came after 200 representatives of all religions, members of the government, parliamentarians and UN officials met yesterday at the Chatrium Hotel in Yangon.

The Myanmar Interfaith for Children platform was established in 2014 by an NGO, the Ratana Metta Organization, and UNICEF.

"Children represent around one third of the country’s population, and therefore, we must end conflict now in order to protect children’s futures. Conflict prevents children from developing to their full potential and hence, hinders the country’s growth,” religious leaders said.

"Much of Myanmar’s future depends on what Myanmar society is able to do for children now. The future of our children will have a smooth path only if decisions are made decorously by the adults of today," they added.

The Myanmar Interfaith for Children includes Buddhist, Christian, Islam and Hindu communities. It calls on all parties to focus on two main objectives: end the fighting and start peace as well as safeguard the needs and rights of children.

For Sitagu Sayardaw Ashin Nyanaissara, a Buddhist leader, “Conflicts and violence are caused by selfish thoughts.  By avoiding the two extremes and coming to a compromise, as per the Buddha's saying, we can all reduce conflicts.”

The conference on 31 August is the most important assembly of peace since that of 12 February 1947 that gave birth to Myanmar.

The goal is to reduce tensions among the more than 135 ethnic groups who have always struggled to live together in a peaceful way and are still fighting the central government and its Burmese majority.

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