(Vatican Radio) Myanmar’s prominent Catholic Church leader has appealed to the government to probe allegations of ‘ethnic cleansing’, war crimes and crimes against humanity in a truly independent way that results in justice and accountability. In a statement on Monday, Cardinal Charles Bo said he was raising his voice “at a great personal risk”, to speak out for the rights and dignity of every people against “religious extremism.” “Even when many voices were muted, I have raised my voices against religious extremism, the plight of IDPs [internally displaced persons] and treatment of minorities,” he wrote in the 26 June statement.
The cardinal who is archbishop of Yangon, spoke against the peresecution of minorities and described the “horrific persecution” of the Rohingya Muslims of Rakhine state as “an appalling scar on the conscience” of his country. The “devastating report” of the United Nations on the treatment of ‘Rohingyas’, he said, should have served as “a wake-up call for all.” He urged for a full and independent investigation of allegations of so-called “ethnic cleansing”, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states, and throughout Myanmar, in a way that “results in justice and accountability."
Myanmar’s first cardinal indicated that extreme positions and words, unless reined in, could force the country back to the dark decades military dictatorship “where no one had any rights”, and Myanmar, he said, “cannot live through another such spell.”
The 68-year old archbishop was however optimistic that peace conferences and inter-religious peace gatherings were gaining strength, sidelining the extremist elements.
In a special greeting to Muslims on the occasion of Eid that marks the end of their holy month of Ramadan, Card. Bo noted they have “served the poor and vulnerable in this country through commendable generosity.” “The holy month has given way to celebration of fraternity,” the cardinal noted and wished peace and joy to those “brothers and sisters” suffering “war and displacement.”