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Faiths unite in support of child rights

Leaders of Myanmar's four main religions met this week to make a joint 'Myanmar Interfaith Declaration' on the rights of the child.

The declaration expressed their commitment to the notion that every child can enjoy his or her rights according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The commitment was given at an event organised by a partnership between the Ratana Metta Organisation and UNICEF and held at the Chatrium Hotel on April 2-3.

"The conference is the first time in Myanmar's history that religious leaders from different faiths have come together to maximise the use of the spiritual, moral and social assets of religious communities in support of child protection, survival and education", said a press release jointly issued by RMO and UNICEF.

Religious leaders of the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities attended the National Conference on Faith for Children and re-affirmed that "every child is entitled to a safe, protected grow and develop to her or his potential and has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion", said the release.

UNICEF'S Representative to Myanmar, Mr Bertrand Bainvel said "too many communities have been torn apart by inter-communal and inter-religious violence."

"We, the world's religious leaders believe that all religions in the world are able to mitigate the violence of the human mind and to make it polite and tame. The position of religious leaders will be raised higher as people see them serving in the best interests of community welfare and the promotion of world peace and stability", said the Venerable Dr.Ashin Nyinnissara, also known as Sitagu Sayadaw, Chancellor of the Sitagu International Buddhist Academies.

"Religious leaders...have a strong influence on people's behaviour. That is why all faith leaders have a responsibility to promote protection, survival and development for all children", said U Myint Swe, president of RMO.

Over 100 representatives from across the major faiths and including international scholars and experts attended the conference. "Children are symbolised as jewels in the Holy Quran", said Al-Haj Mufti U Ko Lay, a senior Muslim leader, patron of Religions for Peace Myanmar and co-signer of the declaration.

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