Prayers of peace offered for war-weary Myanmar
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.
Saw Poe Kwar (second right) poses for a photo at a “pre-celebration” for International Peace Day.