ASIA/MYANMAR - Cardinal Bo’s appeal: "Stop conflicts with ethnic minorities, we need to negotiate"

Tuesday, 18 October 2016 ethnic minorities   religious minorities   violence   wars   peace   justice   dialogue  

Yangon (Agenzia Fides) - New flare-ups in the civil conflict between armed groups of ethnic minorities and the Burmese army exploded in Kachin and Karen states, as well as new violence in Arakan state exploded right after the national conference on ethnic minorities organized in September by the Burmese government. These circumstances have greatly alarmed Cardinal Archbishop of Yangon, Charles Maung Bo, who has launched an urgent appeal to the nation: "A few months ago - reads the text of the Cardinal’s appeal sent to Agenzia Fides - Myanmar glowed like a city situated on a mountain. For the first time in 50 years all the warring parties came together for the peace conference called the 'Panglong Conference of the 21st century'. The world welcomed the new hopes of peace, and the Church in Myanmar warmly welcomed this conference. But recent events have raised serious concerns that this may be a false dawn".
"We are deeply concerned - the Archbishop notes - since the conflict broke out soon after the conference. Is it a war for peace? The war for peace is an illusion. If the army is pursuing the conflict with the aim of weakening the armed groups ... what is there in the mind of generals? And what is in the minds of armed group leaders?".
The Cardinal emphasizes the thousands of refugees, in particular "women and children who are starving": "This is not acceptable", he explains, urging to "immediately allow humanitarian organizations to reach the displaced". "We urge all groups to return to peace" in the spirit of encounter and negotiation. "There is only one path to freedom for the nation and peace is the path. The time for violent solutions is over. We are a democracy. Why war? "Asks the Cardinal.
"Myanmar is a sacred land where religion remains a beacon for all people. This nation is built on religious foundations. Therefore, to support peace, we need to involve religious leaders as an active part of all peace initiatives", said the Cardinal, inviting them to consider "these leaders as facilitators of peace at a community level" and giving full availability of the Burmese Bishops to promote activities related to negotiations, peace, conflict resolution through peaceful dialogue. "Let the peace pilgrimage, which began with the Panglong conference, continue" the text concludes. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 18/10/2016)