Asian youth leaders urge MILF and gov’t to resume peace talks


DAVAO, October 12, 2008—If one thinks the enduring conflict in Mindanao is due to religious differences, some 90 multi-religious youth leaders gathered here today believe otherwise.

This is because for the members of the Religions for Peace Asia and Pacific Youth Network, lasting peace and friendship is achievable among the religiously-diversified Mindanaoans had they been peace-loving enough to respect everybody’s ideologies.

To further prove their point, youth leaders of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian and indigenous communities from sixteen Asian countries are convening today until Tuesday (October 12-14) in a pan-Asia summit to formulate multi-religious action plan to help develop the Mindanao peace process.

“(We believe that) the root cause of the conflict in Mindanao is not unique to the Philippines, and can be found in all parts of the world. The process of marginalization of the political, economic, cultural and religious identities needs to be exposed and over-turned. Religious youth leaders are convinced that we need to confront this challenge and become peacemakers now,” the youth network said in a statement.

Meantime, the group has urged the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government to “meet halfway” and promote peace talks capable of generating real and lasting solutions in the conflict-laden region.

“The youth hopes the immediate returning to the negotiation table by the Philippine government and the MILF. The international community is paying close attention to the humanitarian crisis in Mindanao of the almost half million internally displaced persons and others affected by the current conflict,” it added.

According to organizers, the outcomes of the Summit will be highlighted in the senior religious leaders gathering in Manila from October 17 to 21.

“(This will definitely) bring the voice of youth and the situation in Mindanao to the 300 participants of the general assembly of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP) with the President of the Philippines,” it said. (Kris Bayos)(CBCPNews)

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