Yangon (Agenzia Fides) - In a seven-point appeal published on January 25th, members of the interreligious platform "Religions for Peace of Myanmar" demand the creation of the conditions for peace in Myanmar. All ethnic discrimination should be eliminated and all of Myanmar should be demilitarized seeking political solutions to important problems, reforming the judicial, educational, social security and health systems and decentralizing decision-making to prepare a prosperous and peaceful future for the new generations. The signatories address their demands to the new government, ethnic, political and military leaders as well as to all people of goodwill. As "ambassadors of peace and reconciliation, we reaffirm the commitment to work together for peace in our land". In the text sent to Agenzia Fides, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, also signatory of the appeal, on behalf of "Religions for Peace" and on behalf of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, notes that "last November's elections were widely recognized as free and fair" and this "gives the new government the mandate and obligation to pursue the inclusive economic and social objectives for which it was elected".
Religious leaders recall the current challenges Myanmar is facing: "The global pandemic is putting our public health system to the test. The virus has devastated our fragile economy. Children have lost a school year and university courses are not being held. Many are starving and poor people suffer even more. The whole community is suffering. Before the pandemic, Myanmar was already experiencing an environmental disaster. The new government must take united and proactive policies. Myanmar will have to address these challenges, support peace and promote a vibrant prosperous future. The rights and duties of all in Myanmar are mutual and our interest in the common good applies to all".
Point one of the text calls on the government to "create the conditions for peace": "The duty of every leader, both civil and military, is to commit to unity, peace and reconciliation. Everyone civil and military leaders are asked to put an end to the futile search for military solutions and to seek justice through dialogue and negotiation with courage and determination. Peace will only come about when there is a spirit of transparent, open and responsible leadership in every sector and and level of governance".
On the second point, the religious leaders point out the urgent need to eradicate all ethnic discrimination: In a country that is "deeply divided on ethnic grounds", we can and must take another path, a path towards solidarity. Myanmar's longstanding civil conflicts have ethnic backgrounds, but the main causes are political", the appeal said.
For this purpose it says under point three that it is necessary to demilitarize Myanmar: "War is the language of death. Civil wars are a refusal to recognize the humanity of our brothers and sisters. Violence never creates peace. War prevents harmonious coexistence. Conflicts cause bitterness, division and wounds that take years to heal. Unity must be sought, but not out of fear or threat", reads the text.
The ideal way to cope with the great challenges is shown in the fourth point: it is about the search for political solutions, since "there will never be a military solution to a political conflict". "The pursuit of military solutions only leads to endless war and endless misery. The expanded deployment of the Burmese army (Tatmadaw) in ethnic minority areas cannot lead to unity if political dialogue is absent".
There is also an urgent need to continue the reform process in the justice, education, social security and health sectors, as stated in the fifth point of the call: "The reforms already under way by the Center are immense". "There is urgent need for further progress in these essential areas because "delayed justice is denied justice".
Regarding the reform process, point six says that it is also necessary to decentralize decision-making processes: "Good governance requires subsidiarity, delegation. Not all decisions should be made in the capital Nay Pyi Tawrden. The activities that affect the whole society must be coordinated, taking into account the life of the local communities. The delegation needs to be accompanied and supported by training and attention for both elected politicians and public administration officials", said the religious leaders.
All of these comprehensive national efforts, it says in the seventh point, serves to "prepare the next generation", to eradicate poverty and build a better future, in particular by focusing on the education and development of young people". "Education for everyone in Myanmar is a hundred times more valuable for building peace than buying arms. Myanmar must trust its youth, invest in them and promote them. Young people are our present and our future", the appeal emphasizes.
The document of the religious leaders concludes with an invitation to all citizens to actively work for a "new era of unity and solidarity", to be "artisans of peace, to unite and not to divide, to extinguish hatred and not to cultivate it or to ignite it, to always be open to paths of dialogue that reconcile, heal, unite our beautiful country". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 26/1/2021)