Opening Speech delivered by Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to the Religions for Peace-Myanmar (RfP-M)’s third advisory forum on National Reconciliation and Peace

NAY PYI TAW November 14

The third advisory forum on National Reconciliation of the Religions for Peace-Myanmarwas held at Thingaha Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw at 9 am on 14.11.2019. Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing delivered the opening address. The following is a translation ofthe full text ofthe speech.

First of all, I would like to pay obeisance to Sayadaws and members of Sangha who are present on this occasion. And I wish physical and mental well-being and auspiciousness for spiritual leaders of different faiths, the State Counsellor,vice presidents, parliamentary speakers, Union ministers, deputy ministers, heads of departments, foreign diplomats, representatives of UN agencies, officials of(RfP-M)and invited guests.

I am delighted and honored to make my first speech at the third advisory forum of the RfP-M on national reconciliation and peace.

I am aware that the topics that will be discussed at the forum can well reflect and facilitate promotion of eternal principles of justice,liberty and equality as well as stability, peace and development of the country.

It is clearly stated in the Constitution that eternal principles must be enhanced inside the country and regarding international relations,”The Union practices independent,active and non-aligned foreign policy aimed at world peace and friendly relations with nations and upholds the principles of peaceful co-existence.”

Food, cloth and accommodation as well as the access to secure livelihoods are basic needs of the world’s population. The most important thing for those needs is peace in other words stability of the country. To achieve stability,eternal principles of justice, liberty and equality must be flourishing.The common advices of different religions is to practise loving-kindness, do good deeds and avoid bad deeds, seek wisdom to be able to differentiate between good and bad, and have an impeccable moral character.

With regard to eternal principle of Justice, the Constitution states”the Union shall guarantee any person to enjoy equal rights before the law and shall equally provide legal protection.” With regard to Equality, it states “the Union shall not discriminate any citizen of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar based on race, birth, religion, official position, status, culture, sex and wealth.” With regard to Liberty, it provides individuals with freedom and rights in line with law. It is important that we respect, abide by and implement according to the law.

Despite the fact that every country around the world has citizens of different religions, all of them pay heed to the religion which is practised by the majority in the country. For example, about 73 percent of the national population practise Christianity in the United States ofAmerica; Hindu followers account for about 80 percent of national population in India while about 89.5 percent of the national population belong to Islam in Bangladesh. It should be aware that those countries.

Cultural evidence suggests that religious beliefs in Myanmar date back to Pyu Period, the most ancient period of the country. Pagodas in Bagan are testimony to the fact that Theravada Buddhism has been practised by the majority since Bagan Period, the first Myanmar Empire in AD 11. And there are also comprehensive historical records that the majority of Myanmarcitizens have whole heartedly embraced Buddhism in successive periods.Only after Myanmar fell under colonial rule, followers of Christ and other religions have increased.

Till today, around 78 percent of Myanmar’s population is Theravada Buddhists. Therefore, the Union recognizes special position of Buddhism as the faith professed by the great majority ofthe citizens of the Union. The Union also recognizes Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Animism as the religions existing in the Union.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Myanmar language is the official language of the Union; and only by providing education uniformly to all the ethnic people, can Myanmar’s education develop as expected. We have to ensure every citizen has completed at least lower secondary level and acquire knowledge and skills, as we have targeted.

Regardless of religions, all of us are “Myanmar”, being the citizens of Myanmar, and must therefore adopt Myanmar Spirit and pledge loyalty to the country. I understand there may be rituals based on culture,customs and religious practies, but instigation on the pretext of religion is unacceptable, and such instigation should not be supported.

Today, we have been able to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in order to take practical steps for internal peace and unity, which is the fundamental requirement of the country. As we are undergoing democratization today according to the wishes ofpeople, pressing demands by wielding arms is unacceptable. We should put aside arms and engage in dialogue to achieve peace. If there is genuine desire for peace, there is no reason that cannot be achieved.

People hope tha NCA signatories will continue to implement the agreement with genuine loving-kindness and goodwill in the interests of the country and citizens.And I would like to invite the non-signatories to give up unlawful and terrorist acts, which are the opposite of peace, and walk on the right track of peace, in consideration of the people.

In conclusion, I hope the third advisory forum of the Religions for Peace-Myanmar on national reconciliation and peace in Myanmar will deliver encouraging results. I hope all the Myanmar citizens can address poor wisdom, loose morals and characters, which are the rootcause of all conflicts. I hope they can work together in unity without discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, with the belief that “The strength of a country lies within”, to achieve peace and promote eternal principles, and work to the best of their ability to achieve genuine, permanent peace as soon as possible.

Thank you all! Please accept my obeisance Venerable Sayadaws and members of Sangha!

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