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Peace Education

Miracles of Forgiveness at Central African Conference

Central African Republic-2015-06-13-Miracles of Forgiveness at Central African Conference

French

Bangui, Central African Republic—One month after the Bangui National Forum, UPF invited 80 leaders to discuss the forum’s recommendations.

The meeting, which took place on June 13, 2015, in the conference hall of a stadium in Bangui, the capital, was a follow-up to a May 2 conference. Both events had the theme of “Forgive, Love, Unite.”

Religious, political, youth and women leaders, members of civil society and representatives of different armed groups came together to discuss the recommendations of the Bangui National Forum, a national reconciliation conference that took place from May 4 to 11, 2015.

The Central African Republic has faced a recurrent political and military crisis since 1996. The last crisis in 2012 evidenced a large gap between Muslims and Christians marked by killings and looting committed by both communities. Thanks to the intervention of the international community, however, the situation is improving gradually.

At the June 13 conference, the government was represented by the general director of reconciliation, a representative of the ministry of reconciliation, dialogue and promotion of civic culture.

During the conference, which lasted all day, Reverend Noel Mathias Salogba, the secretary general of UPF-Central African Republic, read a speech given in 1973 by UPF Founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon at the time of the Watergate Crisis in the United States. In that speech Rev. Dr. Moon had urged the American people to “forgive, love and unite.”

The guests heard lectures about the UPF Peace Principles. Following this, they were given forms to apply for the honor of being named an Ambassador for Peace.

Imam Umar Kobine Layama, president of the Central Islamic Community and also the president of the Platform of Central African Religious Confessions, spoke on behalf of Archbishop Nzapalainga of Bangui and Rev. Pastor Guerekoyame, president of the Association of Evangelical Churches of Central Africa. He congratulated UPF for taking the initiative to organize this conference and requested that UPF teach these same lectures in the hinterland.

A UPF advisor gave a talk in which he reminded the leaders of their responsibility to serve the people. He warned them strongly against violating human rights, misusing their sexual organ and misusing public money.

The last person who spoke was the representative of the ministry of reconciliation, dialogue and promotion of civic culture. She also congratulated UPF for organizing the conference debate and praised the objective of supporting the Bangui National Forum in promoting peace and social cohesion among Central Africans.

After a break, the conference was given over to discussions among the participants. It was a thrilling part of the conference in which all the participants spoke. Accusations, explanations and justifications were expressed, sometimes with anger and also emotions on the causes of conflict and what they had suffered.

Ultimately, miracles occurred. The representative of the association of victims of armed conflict angrily said that after his leg was cut off, he vowed never to forgive Muslims and armed groups, including the Anti-balaka group (a Christian militia). However, touched by the message of Rev. Dr. Moon as expressed by UPF, he requested that an imam and an Anti-balaka would come forward so that he could take them in his arms, a sign of forgiveness.

Also, at the end, the general coordinator of an armed Anti-balaka Christian militia kneeled to apologize to the imams who were there. The move was repeated, but by an imam. It was incredibly moving, and tears were shed!

The conference was sanctioned by joint statements and recommendations to the government. At the end an imam and a Christian pastor said an interfaith prayer, followed by a prayer offered by all the participants holding hands. And then all the participants sang the national anthem.

After a group photo, there was time for cordiality among the guests and the sharing of a meal.

 

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