In his New Year message to the Roman Catholics of Burma, Monsignor Charles Bo called for unity between the “different souls” of “this wonderful nation” and pointed particularly towards the Rohingya Muslims of western Burma, saying those born in the country should be granted citizenship.
The archbishop further called for an end to violence against the Rohingyas, and urged the country to instead fight against poverty and human trafficking.
“On the eve of the New Year, Myanmar prepares for the dawn of a new era characterized by freedom, democracy, justice, peace, hope and fraternity among the different souls of this wonderful nation,” wrote Msgr Charles Bo in AsiaNews in a message addressed for 1 January 2014 on the occasion of the World Day of Peace.
He noted that Burma has “opened its doors to the world” over the past two years through a series of reforms in favour of democratic freedoms as well as some major economic, social and political reforms. He said that for the first time in over 50 years, there are “concrete reasons for hope” for the future.
Citing the communal violence aimed at Rohingyas and other Muslims, he said, “Without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a stable and lasting peace.”
Emphasizing the value of unity in diversity, Archbishop Bo invited the Burmese government and the international community to resolve the issues related to citizenship, according to the principle that every person born in Myanmar should be recognized as a citizen of Burma.
Msgr Bo further noted that other “tragedies”, such as the ongoing conflict in Kachin State, cause “great harm” to the nation.
“I wish all my brothers and sisters, of all religions and ethnicities, throughout our nation a truly happy and blessed New Year,” he concluded.