(24 May 2018 | Yangon) On 24 May 2018, a high-level Myanmar and international multi-religious delegation presented to the peoples of Myanmar a vision of peace and development.
An open letter to the peoples of Myanmar invites them to recall the inherent virtues of their society expressed during the great Nargis disasters. During that time the letter notes, “Buddhist monks saved affected people in all villages, Christian humanitarian agencies distributed aid to those suffering beyond their ethnic and religious boundaries, and Hindu, Muslim and other groups were united to help one another to alleviate the suffering of their fellow country men and women. Compassion and common living are the fundamental values and virtues of the peoples of Myanmar, and unity in diversity is the strength of this nation.”
The letter continues: “We must together prepare our children for the responsibility of maintaining and unfolding this vision. To teach the youngest members of society about the beauty of multi-religious coexistence and the virtue of compassion to carry this vision forward into our shared future is a collective goal shared by all peoples of faith and good will.”
The letter rejects the misuse of religion and race to divide the people of Myanmar, which goes against the fundamental tenets of the world’s religious traditions and brings hatred, discrimination and violence.
In response to the situation in Rakhine State, the letter notes: “We encourage the Union Government to take full responsibility for a thorough and transparent investigation into multiple crimes perpetrated in Rakhine State and elsewhere. We urge the Union Government to include in this effort the entire population such as the Rakhine, Myo, That, Dynet, Kamen and Hindu.”
The delegation offered their multi-religious solidarity and accompaniment as a track 1.5 mediation for humanitarian response and peace building in Rakhine State, as well as in other ethnic conflict situations. The letter stated: “In search for a solution based upon human dignity and shared well-being and from the perspectives of global responsibility sharing, we call for an international conference with concerned States, United Nations, ICRC and other relevant international actors to address the critical humanitarian issues facing Myanmar.
This includes vulnerability of those living within Rakhine State, those suffering in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh, and those desiring dignified and safe return to the places they know to be their homes in Myanmar. We call for the exploration of global sharing schemes. The proposed international conference should also address the suffering of people affected by other internal conflicts, including displaced populations from the most recent escalation of armed conflicts in Kachin and Shah States.”
Following the meetings in both closed and public sessions for two days in Yangon, the delegation is currently in Nay Pyi Taw to meet with H.E. State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on 25 May 2018 to deliver a final statement. Select representatives from national and international delegations will visit Sittwe and Maundaw, Rakhine State, on 26-28 May 2018 to observe the current situation and engage in dialogue with key local stakeholders.
Myanmar National Delegates included H.E. Cardinal Charles Bo [Patron, Religions for Peace Myanmar], Archbishop of Yangon; Sayadaw U Naryaka, Faundaw Oo Sayadaw; Venerable Ariya Wun Tha Bhiwun Sa (Myawaddy Sayardaw), Abbot, Myawaddy Mingyi Monastery in Mandalay; U Myint Swe [President, Religions for Peace Myanmar], President, Ratana Metta Organization; Grand Mufti U Ko Lay [Patron, Religions for Peace Myanmar], Grand Mufti, Suratee Jamia Masjid; Al Haj U Aye Lwin [Founding Member, Religions for Peace Myanmar], Chief Convener, the Islamic Center of Myanmar; Daw Yin Yin Maw [Religions for Peace Myanmar Women of Faith Network], Former President, Myanmar Council of Churches, Chair; Rev. Father Joseph Maung Win [Secretary General, Religions for Peace Myanmar], Head of the Office of Yangon Archdiocesan Commission for Ecumenism and Interfaith; and U San Min Naing [EC Member, Religions for Peace Myanmar], Core Member, Peaceful Myanmar Initiative (PMI). The International Delegates included The Most. Ven. Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera, Sadharama Keerthi Sri Tripitaka Visharadha Aggamaha Panditha; Supreme Patriarch of Amarapura Nikaya (Theravada Buddhism), Sri Lanka; The Most Ven. Tep Vong [Co-President, Religions for Peace International], Great Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia (Theravada Buddhism), Cambodia; Rev. Nichiko Niwano [Honorary President, Religions for Peace International], President, Rissho Kosei-Kai Mahayana Buddhism), Japan; Prof. Dr. Din Syamsuddin [Moderator, Religions for Peace Asia], Special Envoy of President of Indonesia for Inter-faith and Inter-civilizational Dialogue and Cooperation; Chairman, Advisory Forum of Indonesian Ulema Council (Islam), Indonesia; Dr. Vinu Aram [Co-Moderator, Religions for Peace International], Director, Shanti Ashram (Hinduism), India; Bishop Gunnar Stalsett [Honorary President, Religions for Peace International], Bishop Emeritus of Oslo (Christian), Norway; and Rev. Kyoichi Sugino [Deputy Secretary General, Religions for Peace International].
Read the Letter to the Peoples of Myanmar