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Publié le Nov 17, 2008 - 01:22 AM
Religions et conflits31 October 2008
Dear Esteemed Religions for Peace Members and Friends:
Religious youth in Asia and the Pacific are advancing the Religions for Peace mission with great vigor and creativity.
The Religions for Peace Asia & Pacific Youth Network convened an Asian Youth Summit from 10–15 October 2008 in Davao City , Mindanao, in the Philippines . They intentionally chose this site due to the long-running conflict that has run along religious identity lines in that southern section of the Philippines . The ability of our youth members to cross the boundaries of divided communities is genuinely inspiring.

You will find attached a copy of their Statement and Appeal. It is a pleasure to recommend them to you.
Yours in partnership,

Dr. William F. Vendley
Secretary General

Statement on
“Youth As Peacemakers, Gathering In Hope, Pledging Common Action”
Mindanao, Philippines | 15 October 2008

Presentation of Mindanao Appeal to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines,
by Moderator of Religions for Peace Asia & Pacific Youth Network Lawrence Chong,
with Secretary General of Asian Conference of Religions for Peace Dr. Sunggon Kim
at the University of Santa Tomas on 17 October 2008.

The hopes of the people of Mindanao are our hopes, too. The indigenous child’s hope to complete her education and become a doctor. The Muslim woman’s hope to have her home back. The Christian youth’s hope for peaceful co-existence. We are from different countries, but there is a common hope we all share, the hope for a home and a future without fear. We, the religious youth of the Religions for Peace Asia & Pacific Youth Network—convened by Religions for Peace, the world’s largest coalition of religious communities dedicated to inter-religious cooperation for conflict transformation, peace building and sustainable development; the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP), the Religions for Peace regional body in Asia; and the Religions for Peace Philippines Youth Network—believe that such a hope can also be for Mindanao; it is not just a wish but a right.

We engaged with those at stake—including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Philippine government, and Filipino youth—in this first-ever international youth gathering since the escalation of violence in August 2008. We, ninety religious youth leaders from sixteen countries in Asia representing the major faith traditions and various international organizations. stand in solidarity with the religious youth leaders of the Philippines who are working for justice and peace in Mindanao.

Both parties must cease hostilities and armed conflict, and return to the negotiation table. The conditions of the people of Mindanao who are living in poverty and the more than half million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) must be faced. At the very heart of this conflict are the people—the women, children, and the elderly—who are displaced because of this conflict.

Religious youth leaders representing various stakeholders in the conflict gathered to listen to each other in order to walk the path to peace. Visiting various communities in Mindanao, we engaged with Muslims, the Indigenous, Christians, and people of other faiths to learn of the plight of the people who have been suffering for decades and whose suffering has only been aggravated by the recent conflict in Mindanao.

Asia is the cradle of the world’s religious traditions. Peace has failed because we have not lived up to our deepest religious values. Without seeing each other as brothers and sisters, we cannot attain life-giving peace. The root of the conflict in Mindanao is not unique to the Philippines and can be found in all parts of the world. Asia is moving down a dangerous path toward violent confrontation as there is a dangerous level of cynicism towards dialogue. The millennium hopes of a century without armed conflict seem dimmer by the day, and time is running out. From all corners of Asia, cries for peace ring. Whether it is in Bangladesh , India , Myanmar , Pakistan , Sri Lanka , or Thailand , the issues remains eerily similar: social inequality, injustice, and threats to the environment.

Coming together, we hear many frustrations expressed by the youth leaders: that even though we live in a world filled with the latest communication technologies, we are unable to hear balanced views. We urge the national and international media to give balanced and objective insights to any conflict situations. We also urge the media to see us as allies in a common path to peace and fill the region with news of hope in the midst of conflict.

Having heard diverse cases from different countries in Asia, the Religions for Peace Asia & Pacific Youth Network will focus on one issue per sub-region in order to maximize network advocacy. The sub-regions are divided into Northeast Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

We as a network will continue to support the building of inter-religious youth networks in Northeast Asia for nurturing mutual trust and developing strong and harmonious partnerships in the region.

In South Asia, a youth summit will be conducted in November, and we are united with them in their quest for peace in the region.

As a youth network, we ask that the Asian Coordinating Team (ACT) work immediately to implement the following proposed actions. We specifically ask ACT to ensure that the Mindanao issue remain in the hearts and minds of our national networks and coordinate relevant action plans.

With regard to Mindanao, we as a network will take robust and immediate actions for peace to get all sides to resume negotiations. We will not stop until this is achieved. We are assured that with the leadership of the Religions for Peace Philippine Youth Network and the commitment of the Mindanao youth, peace will be realized.

Our work has just begun and we urge Asian governments, civil societies and religious youth leaders to join us on the path to peace.

Mindanao, Philippines | 15 October 2008

Hearing their urgent cries and for the sake of the women, youth, and children of Mindanao, we the religious youth leaders of the Religions for Peace Asia & Pacific Youth Network from sixteen countries in Asia— representing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Shinto, Sikh, Zoroastrian, and the Indigenous—strongly appeal for pursuit of the Mindanao peace process, with honor and sincerity, and call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Mindanao. We call for all stakeholders to return to the negotiation table and the path of peace. The many years of painstaking efforts and progress made between the Government and various stakeholders should not be overlooked or abandoned.

Reflecting on the values of our faith traditions, we implore that all parties seek reconciliation and practice forgiveness. We believe that the resumption of the peace negotiations among all stakeholders is imperative to truly attain a just and lasting peace in the country.

We, bearing witness to the extreme conditions of the people of Mindanao, urge the government of the Philippines to intensify its efforts to care for the more than half million Internally Displaced Person (IDPs) as a humanitarian crisis looms. We urge the United Nations to review the situation and take relevant action as the number of IDPs continues to grow.
We call for the security forces to respect international norms pertaining to existing evacuation centers and to allow free access to aid for the people of Mindanao.

The misuse of religion to label the conflict and undermine—as well as exacerbate—the plight of the people of Mindanao must end. Mindanao is a place rich with natural resources and filled with talented young people, yet the majority of the population is extremely poor. We urge all stakeholders to stop militarization and focus on sustainable peace and development programs as a means toward a just and peaceful society.

We, seeing the people in Mindanao suffering as a result of the conflict and as a result of decades of neglect, call for JUSTICE for the marginalized of Mindanao who are lacking good education, jobs for their youth, and are living in poverty.


We appeal to young Filipinos to be aware of what is going on in their homeland and not let peace slip away.

We invite the international community to visit Mindanao to change their perceptions of the situation and understand the history of the political, economic, and social marginalization that are the real roots of the conflict. We urge the regional and global community to understand the reality, hear the people, and bear witness to the everyday struggle to survive.

We have SEEN the children desperate for knowledge lacking the resources for education.

We have HEARD the plight of the displaced, their elderly, women and children.

We are asking you to join us in ACTION to seek immediate attention for those affected.

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