06/28/2013, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Religious leaders: peace and harmony, only development path for Myanmar

by Francis Khoo Thwe
In Yangon, the U.S. ambassador brings together representatives of the major faiths. Catholics represented by the Archbishop, Msgr. Charles Bo. Respect and unity in diversity, the principles of coexistence. At a young nation needing "education, health and development," not wars and conflicts.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - A special blessing for all citizens and the invitation to all to work for "peace and prosperity", regardless of faith or religious beliefs. It is the most important step and significant interfaith message to be  published at the end of the meeting that took place yesterday in Yangon between the representatives of the most important religions in Burma. To promote the initiative Derek J. Mitchell, U.S. ambassador to Myanmar.  It was by attended Archbishop Charles Bo - as a delegate of Catholics - as anticipated in recent days by AsiaNews.

The meeting was attended by leaders representing Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and they wanted to revive the principle of "unity in diversity" and "respect" for different opinions and ways of doing things. The religious leaders affirmed that "peace is the only way forward for all of us" to ensure what the new generations, which are then the majority in Myanmar, expect: education, healthcare and human development.

In the note sent by Msgr. Charles Bo to AsiaNews the prelate also recalls that "no religion promotes hatred". It is the task of leaders and representatives of various faiths "to refrain from speech that fosters hatred, targets someone because of their faith, causes damage or injury, affects specific groups."

For some time now Myanmar has been wracked by violent ethnic-religious conflicts, which have pitted the Buddhist majority and the Muslim minority against each other. In particular, in the western state of Rakhine, on the border with Bangladesh, with the repression of the Rohingya Muslims, accused of being illegal immigrants. Fights, assaults, targeted attacks, or individual sources of tension have led to hundreds of dead and thousands displaced under the complete inertia - if not connivance in some cases - of institutions and police forces. The recent proposal of a group of Buddhist monks, who want to prohibit mixed marriages, is further fomenting tensions and divisions.

These divisions can "cause delays" on the path of reforms, warn the Burmese religious leaders, and stop human and social "development". However, "at this point it is important that everyone, men and women, go forward together in friendship" which alone can ensure "peace and prosperity for all." We call upon all the faithful, they conclude, because "peace is the only way forward for our nation."

 

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