Speaking at the Muslim Sisters of Éire Dublin Charity Ball Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness, said Aung San Suu Kyi, even at this late stage, needs to speak out against the violence and ethnic cleansing taking place in Burma.
And she commended the Muslim Sisters of Éire for their efforts to help the Rohingya community who have been deprived of their citizenship in Burma.
Addressing the charity’s Ladies Ball at the Hilton Hotel, Dublin on Saturday evening (4th November) the MEP who has responsibility for the European Parliament’s dialogue with faith groups said: “Aung San Suu Kyi is the de-facto leader of Burma, elected with a huge majority in the Burmese national assembly, albeit under a flawed constitution written by the army which reserves considerable powers to themselves. However, if she does not speak out then she is complicit in what’s happening,” she said.
“Aung San Suu Kyi visited two villages in Rakhine’s Maungdaw district recently – one of the worst affected by the anti-Rohingya violence but this must be followed up with action to help the thousands who are displaced.
“Depriving people of their statehood and citizenship is the start of a process of dehumanisation which can ultimately lead to depriving them of their fundamental human rights.”
Ms McGuinness said EU and national leaders need to keep up the pressure on the Burmese army and political authorities to end the violence, ensure that the Rohingyas receive the necessary humanitarian assistance, and are guaranteed the right to return safely to their homes.
She commended the work that the Muslim Sisters of Éire are doing both internationally and domestically with their efforts to help those who are homeless. “In doing this work you are directly engaging with large numbers of people of all faiths and of none, and giving witness to the contribution that faith-based actors can make in our societies,” the MEP said.
She said the EU considers that churches, religions and non-confessional organisations have a specific contribution to make to European integration. “People of faith and belief can make a distinct contribution, linked to their worldview and the moral and ethical framework this implies,” she said.
“Even without any legal obligation, the EU would be obliged to engage in this type of dialogue on the basis of good governance. The reality is that even in the highly-secularised societies of many European countries, religion remains an important factor in the lives of millions of Europeans.”
Quoting Pope Francis whom she engaged with in recent days in the Vatican when he said Christians should remind Europe that it is not a mass of statistics or institutions, but is made up of people. Pope Francis spoke of the need to put people at the centre of society and decried the situation today where: …”There are no citizens, only votes. There are no migrants, only quotas. There are no workers, only economic markers. There are no poor, only thresholds of poverty. The concrete reality of the human person is thus reduced to an abstract principle.”
Ms McGuinness said the same could apply to all people of faith. “Through your work with the poor, the homeless, the hungry and migrants, you are going beyond such technocratic approaches to tackling social problems. You are seeing the human faces, smiling on them, and seeking to bring a smile to them, amidst their suffering,” she said.
“I am honoured to be able to support your efforts. It is through working in partnership on a common project that we can get to know each other better and discover the values, hopes and aspirations that we all share,” she concluded.