(Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar | 25 May 2018) The ‘Letter to the Peoples of Myanmar‘ carrying a call for peace and development was delivered by the visiting joint delegation of Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu leaders from Myanmar and across the region to the State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on 25 May 2018 in the country’s capital Nay Pyi Taw.
The meeting between the high-level multi-religious delegation and government representatives, including the Minister for Religious Affairs; Minister for International Development; and Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, was marked by a constructive spirit of commitment and cooperation. There was an understanding of the context and the current violence affecting the peoples of Myanmar. The delegation also shared its commitment to positive action and cooperation to be advanced by religious leaders from Myanmar and their counterparts from other parts of the world.
After interacting with the delegation, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi appreciated its efforts and called the religious leaders to accompany their communities in expanding the concept of ‘happiness’ to include a place for ‘others.’ She noted that everywhere in the world, including Myanmar, ‘some people are left behind.’ By including the ‘other,’ those ‘left behind,’ the mandate for peace and development can be advanced.
She noted the critical role of religious leaders in reminding their faithful of peace and loving kindness and leading them to action and working together. A transformed people, encouraged by their religious communities to advance a shared desire for peace, can usher in ‘progress for all.’
Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi was positive about the future steps planned for continuing dialogue and multi-religious cooperation. The high-level delegation representing the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Islamic traditions also agreed to widely disseminate this call for peace both within and beyond their communities.
In response to the situation in Rakhine State, the letter notes: “We encourage the Union Government to take full responsibilities 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, Khamee, Kamen and Hindu.”
Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi welcomed the delegation’s offer of 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.”
The letter noted the “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.”
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].