Interfaith group issues election plea on children

The public and political parties have been urged to make new commitments for the nation’s children in an appeal issued by an interfaith group ahead of the November 8 election.

“What we are able to do for them now will have a marked effect on their future, since one-third of our population is made up of children,” the Myanmar Interfaith for Children organisation said in a statement issued on October 21.

“We, the religious leaders, also urge all responsible persons to try their best to successfully hold the election peacefully and with freedom and fairness,” said the statement, issued by prominent members of the Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities.

We owe our children the duty to give them the best possible start in life – to help them grow up well-nourished and healthy, get a good education, and protect them from conflicts and violence,” it said.

“It is also incumbent upon us to build an environment where children can have a peaceful, happy, healthy and harmonious life with respect, love and value of each other’s religions.

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“As religious leaders of four major different religions united across our faiths, we resolve to do the utmost for the betterment of our children.”

The statement included contributions from the Venerable U Nyanissara, the chancellor of the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy (popularly known as the Sitagu Sayadaw), Grand Mufti U Ko Lay, and Dr Hla Tun, from the Hindu community.

The release of the statement was welcomed by the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF.

“Religious leaders play an important role in advocating for children’s rights and earn public trust among their respective faiths,” said Bertrand Bainvel, the UNICEF representative to Myanmar. 

Myanmar Interfaith for Children was formed in 2014 through a partnership between the Ratana Metta Organization and UNICEF, and is committed to realising child rights and building a tolerant society that is respectful of religious and ethnic diversity.

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