Yangon, August 24 by Joseph KZH
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon has lead a delegation of bishops to meet with the Myanmar’s military chief Min Aung Hlaing on 22 August 2017. Members of the delegation of bishops were Bishop Felix Lian Khen Thang, Bishop of Kalay Diocese and President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM), Bishop Raymond Pho Ray, bishop of Mawlamaying diocese and Vice President of CBCM, Bishop Philip Za Hawng, bishop of Lashio diocese and General secretary of CBCM and Archbishop Basilio Athai, bishop of Taunggyi archdiocese.
During the meeting, Cardinal Charles Bo offered a congratulatory words to the military for peaceful handover of civilian administration after 2015 election and willingness of CBCM on national reconciliation and peace issue in Myanmar and urged the military to work hard for peace with non-violent way. The military leader also thanked the delegation by saying that this is the first time meeting with Myanmar Catholic Bishops and the military is fighting with rebel groups which disturb rule of law and good governance of elected civilian government.
Cardinal Bo and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing discussed the importance of peace and how it can beneficially develop the country.
Cardinal Bo stressed non-violence conflict resolution and requested all stakeholders “come to the negotiation table” and solve the current problems by “peaceful means.”
The cardinal raised his concerns about civilians affected by the country’s civil wars. “We conveyed a message about peace and we showed our religious leaders’ commitment to seeking peace in the country,” Archbishop Athai who attended the meeting told ucanews.com.
Civil wars continue to plague many ethnic-minority states in Myanmar, particularly in northern, mainly Christian, Kachin State. This conflict has spread into the northern part of neighboring Shan State. Since hostilities resumed in 2011, following a 17-year ceasefire, more than 120,000 people were forced to flee their homes and they remain in refugee camps.
Suu Kyi has pledged to end hostilities in the country yet peace remains elusive. The Nobel Laureate has been widely and increasingly criticized by democratic governments around the world for her hands-off attitude to the Rohingya crisis and her National League for Democracy’s insistence on calling the group not by their self-determined name but as Bengalis.
The killing of nine police officers by Rohingya militants in northern Rakhine State last year resulted in a bloody crackdown by Myanmar’s security forces after which more than 87,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh. In February, Pope Francis prayed for the persecuted Rohingya from Myanmar.
“They are good people, they are not Christians, they are peaceful people, they are our brothers and sisters and for years they have been suffering, they are being tortured and killed, simply because they uphold their Muslim faith,” the pope said during his weekly audience at the Vatican.