24 April, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 06/24/2013 17:52
MYANMAR
Anti-Muslim violence could lead to extremism, says archbishop of Yangon
by Francis Khoo Thwe
Archbishop Charles Bo talks to AsiaNews about the country's "tense situation". He does not exclude "new dangers" for Muslims, but if an Islamist group should emerge, it would sow chaos and terror. For the prelate, Catholics could act as a 'bridge', keeping channels of communication open. On Thursday, the country's religious leaders are scheduled to meet in Yangon.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - The situation remains tense and Muslims are still threatened and in danger. Some fringe elements are stirring hatred and violence. The Catholic Church, Buddhist groups and human rights organisations are fighting for peace and national reconciliation, this according to Mgr Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon, who spoke about the sectarian violence that has left a trail of blood in Myanmar over the past year and seems to be undermining the reforms launched by President Thein Sein.

A few days ago, the Bishops' Conference of Myanmar addressed a letter to Burmese authorities, lamenting the lack of a "political initiative" to solve conflicts and violence.

Meanwhile, some fringe elements among Burmese Buddhists continue to spark sectarian strife, with actions like a proposed law that would ban mixed marriages and impose a ten-year sentence on those who broke it.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi slammed such an idea as unfair and a violation of human rights. However, Myanmar President Thein Sein blamed foreign media for undermining the government's peace efforts because a number of articles, including an in-depth piece in Time magazine, pointed the finger at Buddhist terror and violence.

In view of the complex and tense situation, the Catholic Church has renewed its call for dialogue and moderation, as indicated by the archbishop of Yangon.

Mgr Bo, how do you view the situation?

At present, the situation in the country is tense. Muslims face some dangers and threats. So far, they have been the victims.

Some fringe elements have caused hatred and violence, but they are a small minority. In fact, some monks have offered shelter and comfort to the victims, whilst others have made public statements in favour of peace and [national] reconciliation.

What steps has the Catholic Church undertaken to reduce tensions?

The bishops have spoken up several times on the matter and have issued statements and appeals for peace on behalf of the Catholic Church.

We asked the US ambassador in Myanmar for help to coordinate peace building.

We invited some religious leaders from the main denominations to a breakfast meeting next Friday, 27 June, to promote peace and dialogue at which I myself will be present.

Can Catholics be a 'bridge' for reconciliation?

The Church and the faithful have always shown a friendly and cooperative attitude towards both Buddhists and Muslims over the past five centuries. There has never been a sectarian conflict between us.

As Catholics, we can and we are doing our best to bring peace, ideally acting as a "bridge" between cultures.

Your Excellency, does violence constitute a real threat to reform?

Certainly, it can be a source of chaos throughout the nation. So far, in principle, Muslims have not reacted strongly to the violence. If there were extremist elements among them, it would be a real danger for the country. However, if concrete solutions are not offered, terrorism and attacks will be an inevitable consequence.

Are there elements who fuel tensions 'behind the scenes'?

This cannot be said with certainty. Some pessimists say that the military is behind all this so that they can take back control of the country. Personally, I do not think so. From what I see, even the army supports the nation's reforms.

Rohingyas have lived in Rakhine State for many years, leading a quiet life. It should be said nevertheless that some of them have moved [to Myanmar] only recently. That is why one cannot deny that there is also a problem of a migratory nature.

Since their growth has become obvious, some Buddhists have begun to worry, in particular Buddhist monks.

With all the news coming from outside about Islam and terrorist attacks by Muslims, Buddhists have good reasons to be worried.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
03/29/2013 MYANMAR
Archbishop of Yangon calls for an end to violence between Buddhists and Muslims
by Francis Khoo Thwe
10/26/2012 MYANMAR
Rakhine: More than 100 dead in clashes between ethnic Burmese and Rohingya
11/25/2013 MYANMAR - INDIA - UNITED NATIO
For Burmese activist, the Rohingya issue hides anti-Myanmar power games
by Francis Khoo Thwe
10/24/2012 MYANMAR
Rakhine: a thousand homes torched as tensions between Burmese and Rohingya remain high
08/23/2012 MYANMAR
Mosque shuttered, prayer ban on Rohingya during Ramadan in Myanmar

Editor's choices
ITALY - ASIA
Easter, victory over death and impotence
by Bernardo Cervellera
SYRIA
I will miss you Fr Frans, you inspired us all, says Syrian Jesuit
by Tony Homsy*A young priest from the Society of Jesus remembers the life and work of Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in Homs after he refused to abandon residents beleaguered by hunger and war. "He gave and continues to give everything for the Church, Syria, and peace. His story and qualities made him an exceptional missionary and witness to the Gospel." Reprinted courtesy of 'The Jesuit Post'.
FRANCE - IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch on the uncertain future of eastern Christians, a bridge between the West and Islam
by Mar Louis Raphael I SakoThe wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have made things worse for their peoples, especially minorities. As Western policies have been a failure, fundamentalism has grown with the Arab Spring losing out to extremism. Muslim authorities have a role in protecting rights and religious freedom. The presence of Christians in the Middle East is crucial for Muslims.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.