A Joint Statement by ALL Forum to Religious Leaders in Asia

A Joint Statement by ALL Forum to Religious Leaders in Asia especially the FABC on the Myanmar People’s struggle for Democracy

Amidst the critical situation in Myanmar, we Asian Lay Leaders (ALL) Forum stand in solidarity with the pain, torment
and struggles of the Myanmar people.

On the 26th of March 2021 ALL Forum jointly organised an interreligious webinar with a Burmese Buddhist monk, a
Catholic activist from Myanmar, The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and Lay Mission Institute
(LAMIN), in order to understand the critical situation in Myanmar and seek ways to support and build solidarity with
Myanmar people.

The Myanmar’s military till date continues to defy calls to end the fundamental human rights violations and “return to the path of democracy”. Until now more than 739 people have been killed since the beginning of the coup in
February. The UN’s special envoy on Myanmar has called for strong actions against the junta and has warned of a
possible “bloodbath” and the risk of civil war. The cry for a solution to the crisis is heard loud and clear in all its
urgency.

In a Buddhist majority country, we understand that it is immensely difficult for us Catholics and Christians of other
denominations to voice out our opinions against the Military Junta. But right now, in these tough times we cannot
stand back; Our sisters and brothers are brutally suffering from the unjust acts and crimes carried out by the
Myanmar military and police.

We need to voice out as Myanmar citizens and not as a religious minority. We should make use of this opportunity to unite interreligiously as one human family by getting rid of the preexisting religious and ethnic discrimination. Our
union with the Buddhists, other Christian denominations, Muslims, Hindus and the believers of various ethnic
religions strengthens our voice in denouncing the Military Coup and for working towards restoring peace among the
Myanmar people.

For this, we as Asian Christians support the Easter message of Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, who on witnessing
painfully that “young and old, and even the children have been mercilessly killed on dark days,” expresses hope for a
resurrection by saying “Let the dreams of democracy buried for the last two months in the graves of oppression be
resurrected.”

We appreciate that the president of FABC also recognizes that “The struggle so far has drawn huge support from all
men and women of good will,” and encourages the youth to engage in “non-violent struggles” that “a new
Myanmar of peace and prosperity rise from the grave of hatred and darkness.”

We strongly believe that a new Myanmar of peace and prosperity could rise from the grave of hatred and darkness
only if the Christians participate in the struggle for democracy, being at the front line with all the people of goodwill. FABC could give the lead by exhorting Christians to work together with all Religious Institutions, Civil Society
Organizations and Indigenous Peoples for restoring peace in Myanmar.

As Pope Francis reminds us in the document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, that dialogue
“would contribute significantly to reducing many economic, social, political and environmental problems that weigh
so heavily on a large part of humanity;” we feel with a sense of urgency that it is now or never that we as Asian
Christians act on fostering dialogue and develop strong bonds among the many religious and ethnic groups of
Myanmar.

Therefore, We, ALL Forum along with the undersigned organization members urge FABC to motivate the Catholic
Community and all the diocesan/archdiocesan leaders of Myanmar to be closely involved in the peaceful protests
against the Military Coup. We also request FABC to encourage its member bishops’ conferences all over Asia to
support and build solidarity with the people of Myanmar in whichever way possible within their means at this critical
juncture of their unfolding story of becoming a democratic nation

April 30th, 2021 ALL Forum

Organisations:

  1. Woori Theology Institute (WTI)
  2. Perhimpunan Mahasiswa Katolik Republik Indonesia (PMKRI)
  3. Euro Burma Office Foundation
  4. The Most Holy Trinity Monastery
  5. Lay Mission Institute (LAMIN)
  6. Share Mercy
  7. JusPeace
  8. Theological Institute for Laity (TIL)
  9. Indian Women Theologians Forum
  10. Indian Theological Association(ITA)
  11. Indian Christian Women’s Movement(ICWM)
  12. Rev. Irma Mepico (NCCP)
  13. Ms. Monika (Poland)

Download the statement here

Human Fraternity for Myanmar People

Human Fraternity for Myanmar People

Dr. Paul Hwang, Director of ALL Forum


The world is vividly witnessing the killings of Myanmar‘s military at the time of overviewing the “act” part of the papal document in this month newsletter, which is coincidental. No matter how good the “Good Samaritan” was, if he had just left the robbed and injured behind, no one would have had to die lonely on the side of the road. Likewise, no matter how well a Christian is in doing “seejudge” part as CST’s methodology, it would have been nothing more than intellectual play unless he or she tries to save the dying people, particularly Myanmar people at this moment, in the face of indiscriminated shootings by soldiers who are “not riot police but combat troops” witnessed by Myanmar citizens at the street protests.

As in the parable of the good Samaritan, many people seem to think more and more that they have nothing to do with their business or plans even when they see someone falling down or being seriously injured on the streets. They reject strangers who are regarded to threaten their identities and established order, and consider only those who meet the purpose they seek as “neighbors.” We have to go beyond this world of “between ourselves.” Social fraternity, which can transcend boundaries, is not a false universalism that seeks to uniform and level out everyone.

An inadequate understanding of universal love deprives the world of diversity, beauty, and ultimately humanity. For “the future is not monochrome; if we are courageous, we can contemplate it in all the variety and diversity of what each individual person has to offer. How much our human family needs to learn to live together in harmony and peace, without all of us having to be the same!” (no. 100)

It is a great challenge for Christians because it is not really easy to go beyond the culture of “between ourselves”. The Myanmar military has been able to rule for 60 years by separating the Burmese, which account for some 70 percent of
the population, and 160 other tribal groups, to fight each other. Typically, Rohingya Muslims were bleeding their blood on the altar by the military as scapegoats. Recently, there was also a media report which said that a white youth went into an Asian massage parlor in Atlanta, Georgia, US and fired a firearm killing 8 people including 6 Asians due to a psychological disease, but he was not spared free from the “hate crimes” caused by hating racial differences or ethnic differences such
as “Asian” people.

The reason for the recent “Not In My Backyard” among residents who have banned the construction of a Muslim shrine in Daegu, southern part of S. Korea, seems to be not because of “inconvenience of daily life” but rather regarded as “unwanted facility” such as charnel houses and garbage dumps. It would be clear if the residents were asked whether they would have opposed it so much even if a Catholic or Protestant churches, or Buddhist temple came in. In a world where “hate in us” is real, it is extremely difficult to dream of a culture of welcoming strangers, migrants and refugees.

Complex problems arise when immigrants become our neighbors. It is desirable for each person to enjoy a dignified life where he or she is born so that he or she does not have to migrate, but until such conditions are met, the rights of migrants and their families should be respected. When immigrants come to us, Pope Francis ask us that we should show an attitude of welcome, protect, promote and integrate.

For “it is not a case of implementing welfare programmes from the top down, but rather of undertaking a journey together, through these four actions, in order to build cities and countries that, while preserving their respective cultural and religious identity, are open to differences and know how to promote them in the spirit of human fraternity”. (no. 129) A mid- to longterm international cooperation system is needed. Migrants from different cultures can be mutual gifts. Thanks to the migrants, the society is given an opportunity for abundance and full human development. We should treat immigrants as human beings with equal dignity, not as a threat.

Through meetings with other cultures, we experience greater abundance and maturity. We should communicate with each other, discover each other’s grace, and make a match, and use each other’s differences as an opportunity to mature.The Pope says it is difficult to understand himself and his country clearly and completely without meeting and exchanging with others.

“In fact, a healthy openness never threatens one’s own identity. A living culture, enriched by elements from other places, does not import a mere carbon copy of those new elements, but integrates them in its own unique way. The result is a new synthesis that is ultimately beneficial to all, since the original culture itself ends up being nourished…For “our own cultural identity is strengthened and enriched as a result of dialogue with those unlike ourselves. Nor is our authentic identity reserved by an impoverished isolation”. (no.148)

It is no exaggeration to say that the promotion of diversity depends on how active civil society movements, or popular movements, are at the local, national and international levels. Pope Francis, who has discovered the importance of popular movements, calls it a “social poet.”

“Those movements manage various forms of popular economy and of community production. What is needed is a model of social, political and economic participation ‘that can include popular movements and invigorate local, national and international governing structures with that torrent of moral energy that springs from including the excluded in the building of a common destiny’, while also ensuring that ‘these experiences of solidarity which grow up from below, from the subsoil of the planet – can come together, be more coordinated, keep on meeting one another’. This, however, must happen in a way that will not betray their distinctive way of acting as ‘sowers of change, promoters of a process involving millions of actions, great and small, creatively intertwined like words in a poem’. In that sense, such movements are ‘social poets’ that, in their own way, work, propose, promote and liberate.”(no.169)

Our religious experience and wisdom are the ultimate foundation for respecting human dignity and recognizing each other as true brothers and sisters. In society, there should be a place for reflection from religious traditions, which have accumulated experiences and wisdom over a long period of time, as well as stories of powerful people and experts. The
mission of the church is not limited to the private sphere, but also plays a public role in promoting the development of mankind and universal brotherhood. A journey of peace is also possible between religions. Believers should stop their acts of contempt, hatred, xenophobia, or deny others, which are far from God’s love and neighbor’s love. This is why we, Christians, should go out to build peace and become true “people of dialogue” for interreligious dialogue and cooperation.