Caption: Violence has gripped Rakhine State in west Myanmar as the Rohingya and Rakhine continue to clash. A state of emergency has been declared by the government, and media reports state that over 20 people have been killed. (Photo credit: Reuters)
Editor’s Note: We are trying our best to speak to people who have been following the situation from both within and without Myanmar, and to give people a voice and a platform to share their thoughts for civil discussion. The articles we bring you on this issue come from people we are communicating with, or people who have written to us to air their views. We hope that mature debate and discussion will be able to take place. If you would like to share please write to editor[at]seayouthsayso[dot]com.
A group of young activists from peacebuilding and interfaith organisations within Myanmar have formed a coalition known as the Peace Warriors to call for calm and an end to the violence in Rakhine State, where a state of emergency has been declared after rioting and clashes between the Rohingya and Rakhine.
Worried that the situation is quickly transforming into religious conflict between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar, the Peace Warriors decided that a campaign advocating peace was urgently needed.
“In papers distributed in Yangon for the past few days, people were urged to attack Muslims, their mosques, shops and houses. Muslim women were also singled out as targets. It has made Muslims and those of Indian descent afraid to go about their work, or to even go outside alone. Some Muslim families have closed their shops and Islamic Religious Schools and Universities closed two days ago,” says Mr Shine, members of the Peace Warriors. “Government authorities also called a meeting with all Islamic leaders, asking for Friday prayers to be shortened, and warning Muslims to be aware of their own security.”
The Peace Warriors have created a message of peace and hope to use social media platforms to share the message, urging people not to be led down the path to religious conflict and hatred. Their first message, written over a map of Myanmar, says, “We need Peace! We want Peace!”
The Peace Warriors intend to build their campaign in a variety of ways over the next few weeks, distributing and promoting messages of peace in response to the stories of violence and pain coming from Rakhine State.
Editor’s note: We’ve received a joint statement issued by various religious organisations calling for peace, translated with the help of a Myanmarese who wishes to remain anonymous.
At 5pm of June the 12th, at MIS building at Yangon, with the help of Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Regional Government of Yangon Division and Organization for Promoting Religious Harmony, various representatives from Organization for Promoting Religious Harmony, Several Rakhine NGOs, and Islam Body of Religious Affairs issued a joint declaration concerning with currently ongoing anarchic situations in Rakhine state, Myanmar, with objectives of restoring peace and order swiftly, and preventing the spread of violence to other regions.
1. The conflicts in Rakhine did not began as a consequence of religious strife, but because of the acts of breaking the prescribed laws.
2. All religious organizations in the Union of Myanmar have been co-existed with each other in harmony and in amicable ways for ages, and are still maintaining this good tradition.
3. We plead the authorities to increase security measures in order to stop these conflicts.
4. We vow to do our best in preventing the spread of this violent to other parts of Myanmar.
5. We strongly condemn these anarchic acts and acts of terrorism, happening in Rakhine state.
6. We urge all citizens of Myanmar to help the civilians suffering from the crisis in Myanmar.
We can confirm according to the meeting that representatives from Organization for Promoting Religious Harmony, Several Rakhine NGOs, Islam Body of Religious Affairs, and various media groups, has decided to form a combined-organization, which will work hand-in-hand with local government officials, with the objective of bringing peace to areas affected by the violence in Rakhine state, and to prevent the spread of violence to other parts of Myanmar.