(13 September 2012, Yangon, Myanmar)
Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities in Myanmar together launched the Religions for
Peace Myanmar as the country’s first full-fledged representative and action-oriented inter-religious body for reconciliation, peace and development. Approximately 100 religious, diplomatic, political and civil society leaders in Myanmar and Religions for Peace International leaders joined the inauguration.
H.E. Thura U Myint Maung, Minister of Religious Affairs of Myanmar, addressed the gathered group and affirmed the vital role of multi-religious cooperation in advancing communal harmony and peace.
H.E. Ambassador Ufuk Gokcen of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), who was on a mission to Rakhine state, stated: “No organization is better equipped than Religions for Peace Myanmar to advance inter-communal reconciliation. Partnerships between all other actors and the religious leaders are urgently needed.”
Religions for Peace Myanmar consists of Myanmar’s major religious organizations, including the Buddhist Sitagu Sayadaw community; the Ratana Metta Buddhist Organization; the Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC); the Catholic Church; the Hindu Community in Myanmar; and the Islamic Center of Myanmar.
Celebrating this important occasion and expressing their global multi-religious solidarity, Myanmar religious leaders were supported by the Religions for Peace International delegation, consisting of Ven. Prof. Bellanwila Wimalaratana Anunayaka Thero, President, Sri Lanka Council of Religions for Peace, Sri Lanka (Theravada Buddhist); Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, Bishop Emeritus of Oslo; Member, Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Norway (Christian) and Co-founder of the European Council of Religious Leaders-Religions for Peace; Prof. Dr. Din Syamusuddin, President of Muhamadiyah; Co-President, Religions for Peace; Moderator, Asian Conference of Religions for Peace, Indonesia (Muslim); Honorable Ela Gandhi, Founder, Gandhi Development Trust and
granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi; Honorary President, Religions for Peace, South Africa (Hindu); Rev. Norio Sakai, International Trustee, Religions for Peace, Japan (Mahayana Buddhist); Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace International and Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Deputy Secretary General Religions for Peace International.
The Honorable Ela Gandhi recalled her experience in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and stated that “religious communities can and must work to heal the memories of communal conflict and suffering.”
“Communal harmony must be the bedrock of authentic development for Myanmar,” added Secretary General Dr. Vendley. “The shared moral and spiritual values of Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Hinduism advanced by Religions for Peace Myanmar will provide a basis for communal harmony, while its grassroots multi-religious projects will translate these values into needed action.”