Messages from the Secretary General
2015 ASIA & THE PACIFIC INTERFAITH YOUTH NETWORK (APIYN) YOUTH CAMP
Good morning, everyone.
First, I’d like to begin by saying thank you to the staff and volunteers of RfP Cambodia, and the youth delegates who are gathered here today. I’d like to also congratulate the staff of the Seoul Peace Education Center for successfully organizing this event.
I took over the position of secretary general from Dr. Sunggon Kim at the 8th ACRP Assembly in Incheon last year. And along with that, the secretariat also moved to Tokyo. We are determined to further build on the endeavors of Dr. Kim during the past 10 years.
To date, SPEC has made steady progress as an arm of ACRP. This year, it has expanded its operations and set out a groundbreaking plan to establish peace camps for youth in various parts of Asia over the next five years. You are here for this plan’s very first event.
The purpose of this program is for you to visit many places across Asia, and in cooperation with the local committees, discover the history of what happened in Asia, learn the preciousness of peace, as well as discussing what we can do for the future. And most importantly, our aim is to take what we discuss and put it into action.
ACRP is committed to transforming itself into a more action-oriented organization under the leadership of the co-moderators Ven. Ja Seung and Dr. Din Syamsuddin. After last year’s assembly, we formulated our first Strategic Action Plan based on our founding spirit. We are going to carry out this plan step by step. I must also tell you that everyone at ACRP has high expectations for this peace camp as the central core of our activities that will expand in the future.
The ACRP must perform a wide range of roles, but in particular the multiple terrorist attacks that took place in Paris last month involved many innocent civilians and a large number of casualties, making it a very sad incident that is cause for concern.
The ACRP has already taken up these kinds of ongoing events, actively addressing violent extremism done in the name of religion with its “Say No to Religious Extremism” campaign in Asia, but I think that from this time forward we must tighten the Asian network of people of faith so that this develops into a concrete plan of action.
Above all, I hope that through this program, together we can seriously consider what young people can do about this kind of grave situation. We will be considering this issue this afternoon. Religions for Peace International Deputy Secretary General Kyoichi Sugino, who is here from the New York Headquarters, will speak to us about what young people of faith have undertaken in cooperation through RfP, and will also discuss their future role in detail. I hope that it will be an opportunity to learn together through group discussion and work towards future plans of action.
When we talk about the history of the land of Cambodia, where we are gathered, it is a fact that in the past Cambodia experienced extremely sad times. At the 3rd World Assembly of Religions for Peace held in Princeton, U.S.A., Cambodian participants decried the horrible conditions under the Pol Pot regime. The people of faith from all over the world who attended the 3rd Assembly were shocked when they heard about the conditions in Cambodia, which were not well known at the time. In response, RfP quickly explored aid activities, and a call for action went out following an investigation by experts.
In responding to this, RfP Japan went in to action, deciding that as a member of the Asian community it could not overlook the Cambodian crisis. In particular, the Youth Committee took a central role, making numerous on-site investigations and traveled to support refugees on the border of Thailand. Later, when a new Cambodian government structure was established, RfP Japan created a formal section for Cambodian aid, which cooperated with RfP International in the republication of textbooks, and Buddhist texts, as well as supporting orphanages and the foster parent movement. At RfP International, this developed into a 30 year movement aimed at the reconstruction of Cambodia.
For tomorrow’s program, RfP Cambodia has arranged for you to learn about the conditions during that time of hardship in this country. I think some of you may be greatly shocked, but please don’t turn your eyes away from the reality of what happened, instead look at it for what it is.
Recently I heard a phrase that young people of faith in Europe are saying. It is a slogan “Say No to NATO!” By “NATO,” they don’t mean North Atlantic Treaty Organization; they mean saying “No” to “No Action Talk Only.” It means that activism is important. By joining the program this time you will learn about peace, and hoping as I do that his is learning connects to action.
Finally, I’d like to again offer my sincere thanks to SPEC and their associates, who have come to Cambodia many times in preparation for this gathering, to all the member of RfP Cambodia, who understand the importance of this program and have taken on many roles here, and also to all the youth representatives who, despite busy schedules, have joined us from throughout Asia.