ASIA/MYANMAR - End of the war and federal solution: the Burmese Bishops' appeal

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Banmaw (Agenzia Fides) - Immediate end of the civil war and of the suffering of the population; protection of human rights and civil rights; search for a permanent solution to the conflict through federalism: are the heartfelt requests of three bishops of the North of Myanmar, representatives of the Catholic diocese of Myitkyina, Banmaw and Lashio, where the population of ethnic Kachin and Shan live.
In the area there are 200 thousand internally displaced due to the civil war between the Burmese army with the local guerrilla groups.
In a message sent to Fides, the three Bishops: Raymond Sumlut Gham (Bishop of Banmaw), Francis Daw Tang (Bishop of Myitkyina) and Philip Zahawng (Bishop of Lashio) note: "We have witnessed the suffering of our people since the armed conflict started three years ago. We have seen hundreds of innocent people killed, thousands of displaced people gathered in inhuman camps, without dignity and without a future".
The Bishops condemn "this brutal war that has inflicted enormous damage on the integrity of the Kachin people" and affected thousands of innocent people, "pushing them into the hands of human traffickers and forcing them into slavery", destroying the lives of young people, since many have become victims of drug abuse.
The bishops speak of "genocide" and ask the state and all those involved in fueling the conflict to start talks "to seek a lasting solution to the conflict", "a peace based on justice". The text denounces the attempt to undermine the integrity, identity and resources of the Kachin people, usurping the traditional lands. "We urge the government to recognize the ethnic customary laws". The appeal asks "both sides the need to protect the fundamental rights of civilians".
"The war has denied the fundamental right to life and has exposed a generation of human beings and drug trafficking. Drug addiction has reached a dangerous level", the Bishops say.
The Bishops offer "negotiations under the supervision of the international community that would lead to a real federal solution". The Church, with the help of groups and associations, reaches and assists 75% percent of the victims of war, which has claimed more than 200,000 internally displaced persons. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 19/08/2014)