By Vatican News
Forty-three leaders of various faiths released a statement on Monday, appealing to Myanmar's civilian, ethnic, armed groups, political parties and religious leaders, in view of the upcoming election.
The statement of Myanmar’s religious leaders comes ahead of the November 8 national election and the 21st Century Panglong Conference, which seeks to bring together the country's diverse ethnic groups to discuss how to end conflicts and negotiate a permanent solution.
Representatives of the Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities, as well as members of the Religions for Peace (RfP) group of Myanmar and others who signed the appeal, view the election and the Panglong conference as “a golden opportunity” to work for the good of the nation.
Good of all
“We appeal directly to all leaders of Myanmar and to our fellow religious leaders to listen with respect to one another and determine to seek the good of all,” they say.
Among the signatories of the appeal are over 15 bishops and churchmen, including Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, who is president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), as well as co-president of RfP.
The leaders particularly point to the nation’s three-fold crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, environmental threats, and ethnic divisions and conflicts. They lament that despite the country’s beauty of diversity, its “people cling to the folly of assuming a ranking in ethnic differences.”
While they distract themselves fighting one another, foreigners run away with the wealth of the land, which is rich in gold, teak wood and jade, according to the appeal's signatories. Earlier this month, at least 174 poor people scavenging for stones in the loose earth in a jade mine in Kachin State, were “buried in watery graves” following a landslide.
Without any opportunities at home, the religious leaders say, young people are taking to drugs or going abroad to work as slaves and losing their dignity and lives.
Environmental threats are a serious problem in Myanmar, which is one of the world’s five countries most affected by climate change this century.
Future of peace, justice, inclusiveness
Myanmar’s religious leaders denounce flimsy peace agreements, which cannot prevent the country’s forests and wealth from being plundered. In this way, they add, the country's leaders act like aggressors when they don’t protect the rights of the poor. Rather, civil leaders need to invest in hope and prepare for the future world after the pandemic.
Buddhists, Christians and Muslims of Myanmar, along with ethnic and community leaders, the leaders say, can live the message that the world yearns to hear. When they unmask insincerity, heed one another, and look in harmony to the future, they will promote a world that is peaceful, just and inclusive.
“There can be no peace without justice. There can be no justice without truth,” they stress, wishing that a future of hope, peace and prosperity dawn on Myanmar.