Home News Asian religious leaders express readiness to face challenges of conflict in region

Asian religious leaders express readiness to face challenges of conflict in region

The regional gathering of religious leaders noted that the region “is not yet in peace and necessitates genuine efforts for further reconciliation”

A group of Asian religious leaders has expressed readiness to face the challenges of “arms race,” “inter-state conflicts,” and poor governance, among others, following the holding of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace in Japan last month.

The regional gathering of religious leaders organized by the group Religions for Peace – Asia noted that the region “is not yet in peace and necessitates genuine efforts for further reconciliation” among nations.

“The people of Asia are seriously concerned about the ongoing arms race and the global existential threat posed by nuclear weapons,” read the “Tokyo Declaration” issued after the ninth “governance assembly” of the organization on October 22.

The group cited the “division” in the Korean Peninsula, the “intra-state and inter-state conflicts and confrontations … being witnessed in many parts of Asia,” and the bloodsheds in the region as among the issues that people are facing.

“Though tangible economic growth has been achieved in Asia, quite a few countries suffer from economic recession and poor governance, under which the gap between the rich and the poor is widening,” it added.

The meeting noted that “dignity of all forms of life both animate and inanimate in Asia is under infringement, therefore, education to raise awareness of the dignity of all forms of life is highly demanded.”

“The voices of people, whose human rights are being violated, should be clearly heard,” it said, adding that problems such as human trafficking, child labor, child marriage and other customarily originated wrong behaviors “lead to gender inequality and violate human dignity.”

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Religious, ethnic and cultural diversity are in jeopardy in Asia, and they are being worsened by extremism, said the group.

“The degradation of the environment, which constitutes another defamation of the dignity of life, is widespread in Asia,” they said. “Climate change is labeled now as climate ‘crisis,’ which has posed severe challenges to human survival and development.”

The gathering, however, affirmed that Asia, with its rich religious and cultural heritage is “ready” in countering the challenges and threats.

“Deeply respecting differences and diversities, the people of Asia, fully cherishing pluralism, have come to realize that we share the sense of familyhood amongst us and are proud of Asian spirituality, which calls for resonance in human heart and urges us to unite through sharing with and caring for one another,” read the group’s declaration.

“The beauty of Asia is therefore symbolized by such terms, including tolerance, forgiveness, togetherness and inclusiveness in the context of human relationship and coexistence with nature,” it added.

The assembly said that it has already become a showcase of achievements of flagship projects, like working against human trafficking, education on the dignity of all forms of life, conflict transformation and reconciliation, development and environment, and the advancement of youth leadership.

“The narratives of success and challenging stories shared by the committed members … motivated the assembly participants to advocate transformation for our Asia into a more inclusive, healthy, prosperous and peaceful abode for all the peoples in Asia,” read the declaration.

The group enumerated several “calls for common actions” in Asia that include the promotion of interfaith dialogue and collaboration, the raising of the dignity of all forms of lives, the fight against human trafficking, peacebuilding and reconciliation, protection of the environment, among others.

The assembly was originally scheduled to take place in Tokyo, Japan, in October 2020 to mark the 50th anniversary of the First World Assembly of Religions for Peace International in Kyoto, but it was delayed for a year due to the pandemic.

The assembly was convened this year through Zoom with the center stage set up in Tokyo from October 17 to 22 under the theme “Asian Religious Communities in Action: Moving towards an Inclusive, Healthy, Prosperous, Peaceful Asia.”

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