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By Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, SDB
Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar, June 2019 -- "Myanmar, what a great past! She was once called Suvarnabhumi – the Golden Land. A land that was blessed with treasures above the ground and below the ground. Jade, ruby, gems, Gold, Amber, oil, gas, tin, zinc, marble and so many precious minerals! Myanmar has 50 percent of “Golden wood” teak in the world. Majestic rivers that dance through the seductive fields, watering luxurious forests, fields that made Myanmar the rice bowl of Asia. Myanmar seemed to be a gift of an indulgent God who loved the Myanmar people with favoritism.

Cry my Beloved Country!

With all the great treasures, Myanmar is today one of the poorest countries in South East Asia. An ugly UN tag “least developed country” continues to mutilate her face. She begs for foreign investment, World Food Program continues to feed her hungry. Like the blind beggar begging with the golden plate, Myanmar, once the envy of the world, waits for her foreign saviors to quench her thirst with almighty dollars.

Cry my Beloved Country!

We were once the envy of the world. In the 1950s and early 1960s, we were the rich nation in south East Asia. China was in ruins, war had raped Japan, Korea was scorching in conflict, Singapore was a squatter colony, Malaysia was wounding with her own insurrection.

Myanmar was the heaven, the richest country in South East Asia, boasting the best universities and a culture seasoned by quality education and an enabling of spiritual tradition. Her children were colorful, coming from 8 majestic tribes, with 135 sub tribes. The riot of colors and dances of her people made Myanmar a scintillating beauty of rainbow nation.

Cry my Beloved Country!

This earthly paradise was mutilated into a virtual hell. 60 years of festering conflicts. Armed groups from every tribe! Irrawaddy river, the mother of all of us is the mute witness to rivers of blood that soaked the earth. The shopping list of mutual hatred and injustice is nauseating:

    More than a million displaced during these wars as refugees

    More than a million internally displaced

    More than 4 million of our youth forced into distress migration and slavery

    More than 10 million of our people (20% of population) are economically displaced. It is tears and brokenness to the weak and vulnerable in this country.

    A country where poverty rate hovers around 40 percent.

Myanmar’s suffering is not due to a bad Kamma. It is a manmade disaster. God does not will it. It is the stupidity of men who converted a golden land into nightmare. Since it is a manmade disaster, it can be stopped once for all by the good will of men – and women.

It is not late. Once we invest in hope and peace, we can return to the original Golden Land. I earnestly appeal to all those who believe only in the power of arms:

    Sixty years war has brought no solution to anyone, only death and tears

    Peace is possible, peace is the only way. The gun has proved to be incapable of any solution.

    The road to the Panglong Peace initiative is not perfect but it is a starting point. Give reprieve to the sound of guns, give peace a chance. Our conflicts are between siblings. Myanmar is our family. Peace is the gift we can give to each other to make it a blessed family. Peace and prosperity await this nation. No more days of hatred and war.

    Let justice and peace flow like Irrawaddy River. Let true political and economic federalism, bring trust among communities. Let there be transparency. When the government ensures fairness through true participatory democracy, our wounds will heal, conflicts will become history. All armies can make their guns silent. Wage a war for peace. One army is enough and that army needs to be an army of justice and peace.

    Myanmar has waited so long. Let us return to the Golden land.

Peace is possible, Peace is the only way.

Into that dream of freedom and prosperity, let my County awake.

Archbishop of Yangon and President of FABC



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