ASIA/MYANMAR - The Church's appeal for peace in Kachin state

Wednesday, 15 June 2016 peace   justice   reconciliation   religious minorities   human rights   democracy   violence  

Barnabas Fund

Yangoa (Agenzia Fides) - "On behalf of all people of good will, I would like to launch an urgent appeal for peace and reconciliation for the Kachin population that has long suffered. It is urgent to take the opportunity for more democracy, peace and justice": is the appeal launched on behalf of the Catholic Church in Myanmar, by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, and sent to Agenzia Fides. The text refers to the complex situation of civil conflict between the Burmese army and ethnic minority Kachin, in northern Myanmar. In June 2011 the Burmese army put an end to a "cease-fire" that lasted for 17 years and triggered a vast military offensive against the Kachin people, creating a wave of refugees and a humanitarian emergency.
The appeal, noting the new political situation in Myanmar, where in November 2015 the new Parliament was elected and in March 2016 the new president, says: "We are grateful to all for this spring of democracy. We applaud political parties, the army, civil society and religious leaders for their sagacity. Myanmar finds itself on the world scene with big dreams. But there are areas where the dream is still to be reached. I refer to the war ravaging the Kachin areas. More than 150,000 people languish in refugee camps, reduced to the condition of displaced and waiting for international aid. This chronic war has produced only losers, that is to say innocent people abandoned in the camps, while their lands are dotted with mines, human trafficking is rampant, drug is a death sentence for young Kachin, natural resources such as jade mining are looted. This is the main cause of the conflict".
Cardinal Bo recalls having lived next to the Kachin for 22 years and that he "knew their pain. and their tears". For this reason the Church appeals to the government of Myanmar to ask for "efforts of peace and justice to be pursued with sincerity", aiming to build a "rainbow nation with a federal system".
The appeal urges the institutions, with the help of ASEAN and the United Nations, "to bring all the warring parties to the negotiating table". The Kachin armed groups are asked to "explore new paths of peace, participate in conferences of peace", since "war is always unjust".
Moreover, since most of the Kachin are Christians (Baptists, Catholics and other denominations), Cardinal Bo raises a question: "What is the position of religious leaders in this war? Our faith motivates us to pursue peace with justice. Where are we in peace talks?" he asks, hoping for an active role of religious leaders in the peace process, given that "peace is the heart of all religions. All human beings are brothers and sisters".
The text concludes with a call to the Burmese people to "resist all attempts to fragment this nation, made by merchants of hatred and religious extremists". "We need to believe in unity in diversity". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/06/2016)