Naypyidaw (Agenzia Fides) - The Burmese government has announced the third session of the Conference on peace with ethnic minorities, called "Panglong Conference", for the last week of January: the initiative to continue a path of meetings and negotiations with armed ethnic groups with whom the Burmese army fought for over 60 years, was agreed upon and announced in conjunction with Pope Francis’ visit to the country.
Upon his arrival in Myanmar, Pope Francis met with the powerful chief of Myanmar's army, senior General Min Aung Hlaing, at the residence of Archbishop of Yangon. The military leader told the Pontiff that "there is no religious and ethnic discrimination in the country".
The Burmese government signed a ceasefire agreement with eight armed organizations, expression of ethnic groups, also thanks to the commitment of Aung San Suu Kyi, promoter of the Peace Conference with ethnic minorities.
The topics that will be discussed in the January meeting include some aspects and steps forward of the national political dialogue with the groups, including Shan minorities, and also the Muslim groups in the Rakhine state, that Arakan Liberation Party which agrees to dialogue with the government and constitutes a representation of the rohingya people. Over the past few weeks, the UN has accused the military of "ethnic cleansing" in the campaign against the Rohingya people. The aim of the Conference is to find a framework agreement for all armed minorities and thus to establish stable peace in the country.
The news of the Conference was welcomed in Burmese civil society and Catholic communities. The Christian Solidarity Worldwide International Organization stated in a note sent to Fides: "We ask the government of Myanmar to allow access to international humanitarian aid organizations in the Rakhine state, and to put an end to serious human rights violations in the Kachin and Shan states, seriously opposing the campaign of religious nationalism, intolerance and hatred that is registered throughout the country". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 28/11/2017)