BURMA - Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Rangoon, addressed the Burmese people on the day of August 15, on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption, in a long letter of more than 7,000 words. In his message, Cardinal Bo calls for peace despite the disappointments of recent years, after the hopes raised by the election of a civilian government in 2015, after decades of military rule. The archbishop of Rangoon has warned in particular about the ongoing internal conflicts in the Shan, Karen and Arakan states, and threats to the religious and civil liberties of minorities.

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Rangoon and President of the FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences), issued a letter on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, addressed to the Burmese faithful. In his letter, the cardinal pointed out that the hopes raised by democracy have been disappointed and that the country is still wounded. Bishop Bo expressed deep concern about the ordeals that the Burmese people are experiencing. "Seven years ago, we saw what we thought was a new era," he said."Political prisoners were released, cease-fires were signed, civil rights and press freedom were relaxed, and a dialogue among political leaders led to the first credible elections in a quarter of a century, and resulted in the election of a civilian democratic government in 2015. But in recent years, new shadows have emerged, threatening the rays of hope that had begun to emerge. Ongoing conflict, abuse and the spread of religious and racial hatred threaten the hopes, freedoms and dignity of the people across the country. "Bishop Bo added that Burma faced new threats to religious freedom as religious leaders continue to spread hate speech by inciting discrimination and violence, and unfair laws and rules restrictions against the religious freedom of minorities. The 71-year-old cardinal continued, "Burma is a wounded nation. She still suffers from her old wounds, and she has been hit again. " Yet the Archbishop of Rangoon called the faithful to continue to cling to their dreams, to imagine a new nation"Where righteousness and virtue flow like a river". "As long as we do not have real freedom - free from fear - we will not be able to recover. As long as human rights violations continue, we will not be free from fear, " he warned.

Call for unity in diversity

"As long as journalists can not do their job without fear of arrest and imprisonment, no one will be free. As long as any citizen any religion or origin can not be assured of being able to do his duty without fear of being arrested, no one will be truly free. It is time to seek true peace, based on genuine justice and freedom, " said Cardinal Bo, adding that Burma suffered civil wars, which prevented the population from truly being at peace for several decades. The archbishop of Rangoon expressed concern over parts of the Kachin, Shan and Arakan states, where fighting is still ongoing and people in need have been deprived of assistance and access to humanitarian aid."Whatever the ins and outs of these conflicts between several groups in our country, no one can be deprived of their basic rights, access to food, shelter, care and education," he said. stressed Bo, who also called for unity in diversity, "on a beautiful land of many ethnicities, languages, cultures and religions". "If we want to realize this dream of peace, we must learn to love the diversity of our country and to seek unity," he said. "True peace and true freedom, after all, depend on our respect for ethnic and religious diversity and the protection of the human rights of all, regardless of race, religion or gender. "Cardinal Bo appealed to all Burmese people to build a nation based on the radicality of love and light, not on hatred and darkness. "Let's build a Burma where hope is not just an illusion," he said. Bishop Bo assured that his message is dictated by love, by a desire for justice and mercy. "Burma needs the three - love, justice and mercy - desperately. This is all the more important as in 2020, the country will experience the second democratic elections since the end of military rule. " For him, the solution based on a federal system which ensures that"Natural resources are shared and distributed fairly, rather than looted by a small elite. The Church in Burma is ready to be a place of mercy for all, a center of reconciliation, to defend the rights of all without exception. "

(Églises d'Asie - le 20/08/2019, With Ucanews, Yangon)