Panellists at a recent meeting in Yangon said racial discriminations undermined peace in the country.
The gathering was held on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 20 and on the cusp of a new era as the National League for Democracy-led government prepares to take up power.
Constitutional Law expert Myat Ko said, “No one can deny the 60-year-long civil war in our country stemmed from racial discrimination.”
The objective of the event was the fact that despite democratic developments in the country discrimination based on race continues to exist. This International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was held for the first time in the country and the attendees discussed finding solutions to racial discrimination in the country.
Another panellist Metta (Love) Foundation Chairman Sai Sam Kham said, “I’d like to say we must absolutely eliminate racial discrimination if we really want a peaceful, stable and democratic society.”
The Keynote speech was given by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo who, often recalling the words of Dr Martin Luther King, said: “We have come here not to recall the nightmares the ethnic communities and minorities underwent at the hand of a small group of merchants of hate. We have come together today to have a dream. A dream that does not discriminate based on the colour of the skin, or the belief held in the hearts, but to affirm all human beings are created equal. We have come to live that bold dream in a new Myanmar. We have come to tell those who think might is right – no it is not. Right is the only Might.”
He continued: “First of all we need to understand that the acts of evil perpetrated in the name of religion and race are committed by a handful of merchants of death. Buddhism is a great and majestic religion that teaches compassion. Those who teach hatred in the name of that religion of the prophet of compassion are the first enemies of Buddhism. We shall not allow a handful to tarnish the great religion that remains the light of Asia. These anti-Buddhists do not have a place in a new Myanmar.
“Discrimination needs to end. Discrimination in language policies, discrimination in religious rights, discrimination in government employment, discrimination in land laws, discrimination in the armed forces, discrimination in judicial processes, discrimination in economic, cultural and social rights of the ethnic people and other discriminations need to end. Unity in Diversity is the only path ahead. Inclusive approach is the only approach for peace.”
He concluded: “We wish this nation well. We are blessed to be citizens of this nation. We appeal with the confidence that peace alone can bring prosperity to this long suffering nation. I am sure our leaders have the needed sagacity to heed the call of destiny. Make this new dawn a sweet dream of reconciliation not a nightmare of chronic conflicts. Let my country, my brothers and sisters ‘rise in that heaven of peace and prosperity.”