Rohingya, Aung San Suu Kyi and Card. Bo call for Rakhine's unity and development

Assistance, repatriation and resettlement of refugees are the goals of the latest government initiative. Card. Charles Maung Bo supports the Democratic leader's efforts. Thousands of people at the interreligious event wanted by the Lady.

Naypyitaw (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Aung San Suu Kyi will lead the newly-formed Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine, a mechanism to bring stakeholders, the Union government, and local and international aid organizations together to tackle the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Rakhine State. She announced the new enterprise during a public address on Thursday evening, the second speech she has delivered since dawn attacks on police and military outposts by Muslims militants the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in northern Rakhine State on Aug. 25.

The enterprise will tackle three main tasks: Repatriating and providing aid for those who have fled to Bangladesh, the resettlement and rehabilitation of returnees regardless of their race and religion, and establishing peace and bringing development to the region.  The vice chairman of the enterprise is Dr. Win Myat Aye, the union minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, who is also the chairman of the implementation committee for the recommendations of Dr. Kofi Annan’s Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

In her televised address, Aung San Suu Kyi reiterated that "Myanmar needs to continue doing the things that needs to be done, and “should be done correctly, bravely and effectively”.  “Rather than rebutting criticism and allegations with words, we will show the world by our actions and our deeds,” she said in reference to myriad reports of human rights abuses and criticism of the Myanmar government on the world stage. She said: “We need to understand international opinion. However, just as no one can fully understand the situation of our country the way we do, no one can desire peace and development for our country more than us. That is why we need to tackle these problems based on the strength of our unity.”

Despite the limited control that civilian government can exert on Tatmadaw, the powerful Burmese army, Aung San Suu Kyi has renewed its commitment to the difficult process of national reconciliation and democratic development. "“There is no power which can compare with the support of the people, trust of the people and the unity of the people. I believe that no matter whatever difficulties we face, we can overcome, with the unity of our people,"concluded the Lady.


Aung San Suu Kyi's words follow an event organized by her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), which on October 10 gathered over 30,000 people at the Yangon Stadium for an interreligious prayer ceremony. Buddhist monks, Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, and Muslims were among those who came to pray for peace in Rakhine.

Speaking during the demonstration, Burmese Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, staunchly defended the Lady's work, recalling her commitment to democracy and personal sacrifices during the military dictatorship. " Myanmar is at the cross roads of history.   We are led by the great leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  After sixty years, she has sacrificed her life for the good of the nation. With thousands of others, our pilgrimage of democracy she ensured that  we have more rights, our nation is  accepted as one of the future success stories. This Myanmar of our dreams is going through the throes of a new birth.  Myanmar has to undergo   Peace building, State Building and Nation building.   Today we are gathered as the Myanmar citizens to affirm these three tasks in the company of  Daw Aung San Suu Kyi."

In response to international criticism, the archbishop of Yangon stressed the spirituality of the Burmese people, also affirming that "religion is not the cause" of the Rakhine conflict. " There is a campaign going on outside the country that Myanmar people are not compassionate.  I wish to tell the world compassion is the common religion of the Myanmar people. This is a very spiritual country. Our people are deeply religious. Every day, peace is in our prayers.”

Myanmar is a resource-rich nation where, however, dramatic poverty is widespread. Riches are handled mainly by senior army officers, who still retain a key role in the country's economic choices. By quoting Pope Francis, Card. Bo reiterated that "there is no peace without justice" and that there are two types of justice: the economic and the environmental one. "We must ask this question:  Why in a country blessed with Gold and in a country where billions of dollars are earned in Jade sale every year, at least two million of our youth are working in nearby countries in slave like conditions. There is no economic peace because there is no economic justice.  40 percent of our people are poor and in Rakhine 70 percent of the people are poor.  Conflict does not benefit our poor, it makes them more poor. Environmental justice is required for peace.  Most of the conflicts with the ethnic group is based on resource sharing.   Forests and natural resources belong to the people of this country.  If we manage natural resources well we can bring back all our migrant workers. We can become the richest country in the region. We were the riches in the 1950s and 60s.   Once we destroy nature conflict came in. By bringing peace, we all can develop.  By staying in war we become poorer and poorer. "

Card. Bo concluded his speech, inviting citizens to become peace-keepers, resisting hatred and intolerance: " Forgiveness is the mean of healing. Let us forgive ourselves and forgive one another. Let us not give a chance to doubt and despair! Let our goal of peace not disappear from our sight! Let us keep our faith! Let our hope be alive! Let us bring light of joy to those who live darkness of fear, hatred and sadness. Peace is possible, peace is the only way. "