12/27/2013, 00.00
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Archbishop of Yangon: the Pope's invitation to "fraternity ", the only path to peace in Myanmar

by Francis Khoo Thwe
In his New Year message for the World Day for Peace, Msgr. Bo calls for unity "between the different souls" of "this wonderful nation." The prelate calls for citizenship for those born in the country and an end to violence against the Rohingyas. Calls for fight against poverty and human trafficking.

Yangon ( AsiaNews) - On the eve of the New Year, Myanmar prepares for "the dawn of a new era" characterized by "freedom , democracy, justice , peace, hope and fraternity among the different souls of this wonderful nation", writes Msgr. Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon.  His message addressed to the Catholics of Burma for January 1, 2014 , on the occasion of the World Day of Peace is a message that will inspire confidence and unity. Over the past two years, the country " has opened its doors to the world," through a series of reforms in favour of democratic freedoms as well as some major economic, social and political reforms. "Today - adds the prelate in the document sent to AsiaNews - is more space for civil society, the media and political actors". A stable and lasting peace with ethnic minorities and the release of all political prisoners are the objectives to be achieved in a nation in which "for the first time in over 50 years," there are " concrete reasons for hope " for the future.

On the day when the Catholic Church celebrates peace in the world, the Archbishop of Yangon said that "we are only at the beginning of the beginning". In the face of some positive steps such as "greater freedom of speech", the prelate said that "some have taken advantage of [ this freedom ] to spread hatred and fomenting violence against our Muslim brothers and sisters ." He adds that "democratic reform "alone "is not enough" to put an end to decades of conflict, the country needs an overall "peace process" and not "simple ceasefire " with ethnic minorities .

Archbishop Charles Bo recalls the tradition of the Church's social doctrine, noting that "peace is the daughter of justice " and both are essential .  He calls to mind Pope Francis message for the World Day of Peace, in which the Pope indicates the "fraternity" as the " foundation and path to peace ." The religious conflicts that have brought "pain and suffering " to the young nation. Among many others, he cites violence against Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine , which in 18 months has sown death and destruction . "Without fraternity - he said - it is impossible to build a just society and a stable and lasting peace".

The prelate emphasizes the value of "unity in diversity" , more so in a "multi -ethnic and multi- confessional " country in which " equal rights" are fundamental as well as the promotion of different histories , languages, traditions and cultures. Hence the invitation to the Burmese government and the international community to "resolve the issues related to citizenship", according to the principle that "every person born in Myanmar, should be recognized as a citizen" of Burma. Tragedies such as those of the Rohingya or conflicts in the north, in predominantly Christian Kachin State , are dramas that cause " great harm " to the nation.

And again, the problem of poverty that concerns at least 40 % of the population and the terrible conditions of the millions of immigrants in Malaysia and Thailand, victims of human trafficking , a form of "modern slavery." " I assure you of my personal closeness and that of the whole Church - adds the prelate - the helpless victims of the forgotten wars [...] We must put an end to all forms of hostility , abuse and violations of basic human rights ." Finally , Msgr. Bo urges the Burmese people to "dialogue, forgiveness and reconciliation" to rebuild " justice, truth and hope " in Myanmar. " I wish all my brothers and sisters, of all religions and ethnicities, throughout our nation a truly happy and blessed New Year".

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