Prayers of peace of­fered for war-weary Myan­mar

The Myanmar Times - - News - SHOON NAING newsroom@mm­

AMID on­go­ing con­flict and in the wake of the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence ear­lier this month, re­li­gious lead­ers joined mem­bers of civil so­ci­ety yes­ter­day at a Yan­gon gath­er­ing to of­fer their prayers for peace.

At­ten­dees of the “pre-cel­e­bra­tion” for the In­ter­na­tional Day of Peace – marked on Septem­ber 21 – said the Na­tional League for Democ­racy’s Pan­g­long ini­tia­tive marked per­haps the best chance yet to bring peace to a war-weary land.

“Re­gard­ing peace, there is a light shin­ing on Myan­mar, which is the 21stcen­tury Pan­g­long [Con­fer­ence]. We would like to sup­port that and will keep sending out our prayers for each [step in the] peace process,” said U Aye Lwin of Myan­mar’s Is­lamic Cen­tre.

“From the re­li­gious point of view, peace comes di­rectly from our heart. We can achieve phys­i­cal peace only if we have in­ter­nal peace in our heart. And if we have peace in the heart, there won’t be wars.”

Saw Poe Kwar, a well-known vo­cal­ist who is also a peace ac­tivist, told The Myan­mar Times that much like oxy­gen, peace could not be taken for granted.

“If there is no air in the world, peo­ple will die, but no one ap­pre­ci­ates the air be­cause it is the nat­u­ral state of things. Only when there is air pol­lu­tion, peo­ple try to main­tain [a healthy at­mos­phere]. Peace is sim­i­lar to air,” he said.

U Myint Swe of Ratana Metta, a Bud­dhist faith-based or­gan­i­sa­tion, said peace could not be achieved through words alone and re­quired con­crete ac­tion.

“It can­not be de­nied that every­one in the world de­sires peace, but there are only words and no ac­tions. So I would like to en­cour­age more ac­tion. We can work for devel­op­ment only when we have peace,” he said.

As a bevy of stake­hold­ers pre­pares to meet for a fol­low-up to the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence in less than six months, Chris­tian leader Fa­ther Joseph Maung Win said Myan­mar’s com­mu­ni­ties of faith had their own role to play.

“There are those parts of the peace process and demo­cratic tran­si­tion that our coun­try’s lead­ers can’t work out and if we, the re­li­gious lead­ers, hold each other’s hands and work to­gether, that progress will be achieved,” he said.

The In­ter­na­tional Day of Peace is ob­served an­nu­ally on Septem­ber 21.

De­spite the sign­ing of a so-called na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment last year – about a dozen eth­nic armed groups were not on­board – and the land­mark Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, this year Myan­mar will again mark the day amid re­ports of fight­ing, this month in Kayin State. There, a splin­ter fac­tion of the Demo­cratic Karen Benev­o­lent Army has clashed with a joint Bor­der Guard Force-Tat­madaw con­tin­gent, sending thou­sands of civil­ians flee­ing.

Re­cent months have also seen hos­til­i­ties be­tween the Tat­madaw and a hand­ful of eth­nic armed groups in the coun­try’s north­east.

Photo: Naing Wynn Htoon

Saw Poe Kwar (sec­ond right) poses for a photo at a “pre-cel­e­bra­tion” for In­ter­na­tional Peace Day.

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