Card Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon, issued his end-of-year message.
In it, the prelate urges “all religions to observe January 1st
2017, as a day of Fasting and Prayer for peace.
“Let all of us flock to our monasteries, churches, temples and
mosques carrying placards and flags depicting the words STOP ALL WARS!
Let us spend the day in prayer for peace and a day long fast to change
the hearts of all people.”
Addressed to the "Brothers and Sisters of Myanmar", the appeal is a
response to the wave of violence that has swept through various parts of
the country in the past three years.
In recent week, Myanmar forces (Tatmadaw) have clashed with what the military call a “militant group of Rohingya Muslims" in Rakhine State (southwestern Myanmar).
Since the beginning of October, at least 90 people have been killed
and about 30,000 displaced as the military goes from village to village
to clear the territory of rebel elements.
At the same time, the civil war has reignited in in Kachin State
(northeast). Myanmar troops have attacked by air and land positions held
by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). This has caused an untold number
of deaths, harming the local Christian community as well.
For Mgr Bo, “there is no happiness in many parts of this country. War
goes on in many parts. For more than 200,000 IDPs in the camps, there
is NO happy new year."
Noting that Cambodia and Vietnam have resolved their conflicts, the
cardinal goes on to say, "We are involved in an unwinnable war. Agony
and displacement of all people is the only result."
After 60 years of internal conflict, "Let us come together for peace.
It is time for us to come together – all religions, all ethnic groups –
for making 2017 really Happy New Year. Peace with Justice is possible.
Peace through negotiation is possible. Armed response has failed.”