11/22/2013, 00.00
MYANMAR - UNITED NATIONS
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Archbishop of Yangon : Interreligious dialogue is the only way to solve the Rohingya drama

by Francis Khoo Thwe
After the UN's appeal, staunchly rejected by the Burmese government with NLD approval, the issue of citizenship for Rohingya takes centre stage. Msgr . Bo says it is a sensitive issue and points to the need to distinguish "case by case " . Speaking to AsiaNews calls for a "serious discussion" and a major confrontation between religious leaders. Teaching of religion in school fundamental.

Yangon ( AsiaNews) - "Interreligious dialogue would be the best solution to solve the Rohingya issue . Serious dialogue among religious leaders would have more weight than any political decision", says Msgr . Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon , commenting on an issue of major tension in Myanmar after the military dictatorship . The situation is very delicate and at the center of a vast debate. In particular, after the call by the United Nations in a resolution on 20 November urging Naypyidaw to grant citizenship to the Muslim minority.  A call immediately rejected by the Burmese authorities , who believe the Rohingyas are " illegal immigrants " from Bangladesh , an opinion shared by the rest of the main opposition party , the National League for Democracy ( NLD) lead by Aung San Suu Kyi. People should refrain from making rash statements, reflects the prelate , because in these cases "silence is golden" . At the same time it is necessary to promote a "serious reflection - he warns - to figure out which roads to travel to resolve the issue ."

The escalation of violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine has exacerbated the tensions between the different ethnic groups and religious denominations that characterize Myanmar, the theater last year of a bloody fight between Arakanese and Rohingya Muslims. The rape and murder in May 2012 of a young Buddhist woman sparked a spiral of terror , which caused hundreds of deaths and destroyed homes with at least 160 thousand displaced people who have sought refuge abroad , to escape attacks by the extremists Buddhist group 969.

"The situation of the Rohingya is very delicate and at the center of a vast debate " says Msgr . Bo , that " it's unlikely that the United Nations can exert real pressure on Myanmar." It is true that Muslims are "victims and subject to persecution more in Myanmar " rather than in other parts of the world , he says, but what can we say about " non-Muslims in Islamic countries ? ! And this is the question that the Buddhist monks here in Myanmar always pose. "

The Archbishop of Yangon explains that "Rohingya means the Rakhine population : they are defined the population of Rakhine State , however, there are no Rohingyas but only Bangali " . "The point is that, long ago, a hundred years ago, they came to Myanmar. They - Msgr . Bo added - have the right to citizenship and the restrictions against them should be removed. At the same time , there is a large number who only recently moved to Rakhine State ... a few years ago. Citizenship must be assessed case by case . Certainly it can not be generalized".

The prelate believes " the good will of all" is needed: " The fear that citizens have of Muslims - he said - is in some ways understandable. And the international Muslim community must strive to understand the situation. Having said that , I feel compassion for the Muslims of the country. They live in situations of constant concern and threat to their safety. They a subject to constant attacks".

The solution ? The Archbishop of Yangon says it is based on inter-religious dialogue . "The Buddhist, Muslim and Christian leadership should meet more often and show more understanding. Where there is dialogue, hate speech and misunderstandings give way to solidarity and empathy ." For this he asks that schools teach religion  so that pupils ' can learn about the positive aspects of other faiths . " And even the Buddhist monks, Msgr . Bo, should learn "how much beauty there is in Christianity and Islam ."

According to United Nations estimates there are at least 800 thousand Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

 

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