Senior Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and Hindu leaders in Myanmar, collaborating as members of the working committee for Religions for Peace Myanmar, issued a multi-religious statement on June 18, 2012 in Yangon, Myanmar, to address the escalating violence and the misuse of ethnic and religious differences to fuel conflicts in Rakhine state. The senior religious leaders represent Myanmar’s major religious organizations, namely 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.
At least 50 people have been killed in fighting in Rakhine State since May 28, 2012 when a Buddhist woman was raped and murdered in Kyauk Ni Maw village, allegedly by three members of the Muslim Rohingya minority. The rape-murder resulted in a series of clashes across Rakhine State, which borders Bangladesh, displacing up to 30,000 people.
The senior religious leaders in Religions for Peace Myanmar joined H.E. President U Thein Sein in expressing their concern that such hatred and violence could hamper peace, stability, the democratic process, and development of the country during its critical period of transformation.
The multi-religious statement quoted both Buddhist and Islamic sacred scriptures to reject hatred, retaliation and violence, and call for a culture of compassion, mutual respect and shared well-being. The senior religious leaders reiterated that “Myanmar is a multi-religious and multi-racial pluralistic society and the beauty of Myanmar, which all the citizens have cherished, is unity in diversity.” They committed themselves to forming Religions for Peace Myanmar as a permanent mechanism for their collaboration.
A Multi-religious Commitment to Just and Harmonious Societies in Myanmar
Issued by The Working Committee for the Religions for Peace Myanmar Ratana Metta Buddhist Organization Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC) Catholic Church Hindu Community in Myanmar Islamic Center of Myanmar June 18, 2012
Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and Hindu leaders representing Ratana Metta Buddhist Organization, Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC), Catholic Church, Hindu Community in Myanmar and the Islamic Center of Myanmar, members of the working group for the Religions for Peace Myanmar, are deeply sorrowed by the recent deaths of our Buddhist and Muslim brothers and sisters in Rakhine State. We are profoundly concerned about escalating youth violence and the risk of misuse of ethnic and religious differences to cause divisions that may damage our long and rich tradition of inter-ethnic and inter-religious peace and harmony in Myanmar.
We, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu and other religious communities in Myanmar, join His Excellency President U Thein Sein in expressing our concern that such hatred and violence could hamper peace, stability, democratic process, and development of our country during its critical period of transformation.
The sacred Theravada Buddhist Pali Canon Dhamapada says, “hatred shall never cease by hatred, but only by love and compassion.” The Holy Qaran teaches us that “O you who believe! Seek God’s help with perfect patience and prayer; for surely God is with the patiently persevering (2:154).” All our great religions of the world have similar teachings in their sacred scriptures. Deeply rooted in our religious traditions, we must reject hatred, retaliation, and violence, and must nurture a culture of compassion, mutual respect and shared well-being.
We, representing different faith communities in Myanmar, recommit ourselves to fostering peaceful coexistence among different ethnic and religious groups in the country. Myanmar is a multi-religious and multi-racial pluralistic society and the beauty of Myanmar, which all the citizens have cherished, is unity in diversity.