AsiaNews) - "Despite
various apprehensions expressed by local people, especially the ethnic
communities and well meaning foreign observers, we welcome this process, hoping
that a sincere, transparent Census process is a great opportunity for ushering
peace in this long suffering nation", says the Archbishop of Yangon Msgr. Charles
Bo. The prelate was commenting on the
first national statistical survey commissioned by the Burmese government in
over 30 years. For
the prelate it "sets the stage" for better planning of the process of
"peace and development" , which was launched in 2011 with the establishment
of the first semi-civilian government and reform after decades of military
government and the international community have launched this "ambitious
project," added the bishop, with the aim of ensuring "a peaceful
future" for every citizen of Myanmar (the nation comprises over 135
different ethnic groups), in particular "the weakest" and relegated
to those "to the margins".
In recent weeks, the plan proposed by Naypyidaw census had been the subject of criticism, because it excludes the Rohingya Muslim minority, stationed in the western state of Rakhine and the victim of persecution, not recognizing it among the ethnic groups in the Union of Myanmar. The Department for the population of the Ministry of Immigration said that the group will be able to identify with a generic "Other", and then specify which "name or group" they intend to be identified by.
The path of Myanmar towards peace and prosperity "is a
difficult one" warns Abp. Charles
Bo. This is why the government and
international observers must ensure that large-scale events such as a census, are
conducted in an atmosphere of "trust". It
must instill "a sense of belonging to the nation", added the prelate,
where "justice and fair play ensure the rights of vulnerable communities.
Every effort that goes in the opposite direction, he warns, will be a source of
"mutual suspicion and conflict "for decades to come.
The Archbishop of Yangon invokes a vision that is dedicated to "peace and prosperity", which are to guide "this moment of truth". He appeals to the executive , calling for "total transparency " in every procedure and every step of the statistical survey under the supervision of international experts. The prelate hopes that the Committee called upon to conduct the census is composed of men and women from all backgrounds and cultures. He warns against attempts to change the natural demography of each area, making sure that all areas that were traditionally identified as ethnic areas are not diluted into other demographic shifts.
Finally, Msgr. Charles Bo invites those involved to avoid distorting the three pillars of coexistence: identity, culture and resources. These three form the constitutive element of the ethos of the people, while preserving goods of common interest such as rivers, forests and land. "This country is a country of migrants and displaced people. They are sons and daughters of this land. Efforts are made to wipe out their memory and their possessions. Every effort must be made to enumerate the details of these people and ensure that they return to their original land".