Peace Conference for greater commitment from religious leaders
Archbishop Bo expressed at the meet that Myanmar was a "blessed nation and full of resources and must return to be that place that was envied in the 50's and 60's by small realities like Singapore."
"If you want peace, work for justice," said Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon,quoting Pope Paul VI, at an interfaith conference held in Yangon on October 1-2.
The leaders of five major religions in Myanmar – Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Jews – attended the event organized by the Institute for Global Engagement and the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy.
Archbishop Bo said that Myanmar was a "blessed nation and full of resources and must return to be that place that was envied in the 50s and 60s by small realities like Singapore."
"We must send a strong signal to those who want to plant the seeds of discord in the country and build together a future that Myanmar is founded on justice, peace and fraternal co-operation," he said.
The prelate recalled the Buddha's teachings, based on "compassion not only for humans, but for all beings"; and the testimony of Gandhi, a Hindu, and a vocal proponent of non-violent resistance.
Archbishop Bo said that the people of Myanmar have had to face suffering over the past 60 years of military dictatorship. "Monks and political leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi have opened a new era and allowing episodes of hate and violence would be like betraying the sacrifice of thousands of people who have shed blood and tears to bring us where we are today."
President Thein Sein sent a message to the participants at the peace conference; the head of state ensured the government's commitment "to cooperate with the five major religions in order to prevent ethnic or religious conflicts."
In an atmosphere marked by attacks and suspicions, the call of religious leaders to peace and mutual coexistence becomes more pressing and urgent.
The meet paid particular attention to critical areas, including the Western state of Rakhine, which since June 2012 has seen violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.
The situation in the Western area of the country remains critical. Five Kaman Muslims died in clashes on October 1 in Thandwe town. The violence was triggered by a verbal confrontation between a Buddhist taxi driver and a Muslim that turned into riots. Though the President of Burma met with religious leaders of the two communities, tension remains high.