Peace in Myanmar
Burmese Democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, will spearhead the newly formed Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine: a mechanism to bring key players, the government, as well as local and international aid organizations together to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. She announced this new enterprise in a televised public address. This is the second speech that she has delivered since attacks were carried out by Muslims militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in the northern region of the Rakhine State on Aug. 25.
The Union Enterprise will tackle three main tasks: Repatriating and providing aid for those who have fled to Bangladesh, the resettlement and rehabilitation of returnees regardless of their race and religion and establishing peace while bringing development to the region. The vice chairman of the enterprise is Dr. Win Myat Aye, the Burmese Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. He is also chairman of the Implementation Committee for the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State led by Kofi Annan.
In her televised address, Aung San Suu Kyi reiterated: “Myanmar needs to continue doing the things that need to be done, and should be done correctly, bravely and effectively. Rather than rebutting criticism and allegations with words, we will show the world by our actions,” she said in reference to worldwide criticism of the Myanmar government action regarding the conflict. She continued: “We need to understand international opinion. However, just as no one can fully understand the situation of our country the way we do, no one can desire peace and development for our country more than us. That is why we need to tackle these problems based on the strength of our unity.”
Despite the limited control that civilian government can exert on Tatmadaw, the powerful Burmese army, Aung San Suu Kyi has renewed her commitment to the difficult process of national reconciliation and democratic development. “There is no power that can compete with the support of the people, the trust of the people and the unity of the people. I believe that no matter whatever difficulties we face, we can overcome them, with the unity of our people.”
Aung San Suu Kyi’s words follow an event organized by her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), which on October 10 gathered over 30,000 people at the Yangon Stadium for an interreligious prayer ceremony. Buddhist monks, Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, and Muslims were among those who came to pray for peace in Rakhine.
Speaking during the demonstration, Burmese Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, staunchly defended the Nobel Peace Prize recipient’s work, recalling her commitment to democracy and personal sacrifices during the military dictatorship. “Myanmar is at the crossroads of history. We are led by the great leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. After sixty years, she has sacrificed her life for the good of the nation. With thousands of others, on our pilgrimage to democracy she ensured us that we have more rights, our nation is accepted as one of the future success stories. This Myanmar of our dreams is going through the throes of a new birth. Myanmar has to undergo Peace building, State Building, and Nation building. Today we are gathered as Myanmar citizens to affirm these three tasks in the company of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.”
Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers her speech annoucing her renewed commitment to
reconciliation and reintegration of the displaced Rohingya.
In response to international criticism, the Archbishop of Yangon stressed the spirituality of the Burmese people, also affirming that “religion is not the cause” of the Rakhine conflict. “People outside the country think that the people of Myanmar are not compassionate. I wish to tell the world, compassion is the common religion of the Myanmar people. This is a very spiritual country. Our people are deeply religious. Every day, peace is in our prayers.”
Myanmar is a nation of contrasts: a country rich in resources where dramatic poverty is widespread; wealth is managed mainly by senior army officers, who still retain a key role in the country’s economic choices. Quoting Pope Francis, Cardinal Bo reiterated that “there is no peace without justice” and that there are two types of justice: economic and environmental. “We should ask ourselves this question: Why in a country blessed with gold and in a country where billions of dollars are earned in Jade sales every year, at least two million of our youth are working in neighboring countries in slave like conditions. There is no economic peace because there is no economic justice. Forty percent of our people are poor and in Rakhine seventy percent of the people are poor. Conflict does not benefit our poor, it makes them poorer. Environmental justice is required for peace. Most of the conflicts between ethnic groups are based on resource sharing. The forests and natural resources belong to the people of this country. If we manage natural resources well we can bring back all our migrant workers. We can become the richest country in the region. By bringing peace, we all can develop. By staying in war, we are becoming poorer and poorer.”
Cardinal Bo concluded his speech, inviting citizens to become peacekeepers, resisting hatred and intolerance: “Forgiveness is the means of healing. Let us forgive ourselves and forgive one another. Let us not leave room for doubt and despair! Let us not lose sight of our goal of peace! Let us keep our faith! Let our hope be alive! Let us bring light of joy to those who live the darkness of fear, hatred and sadness. Peace is possible, peace is the only way. “