Myanmar’s Cardinal described the country as “a battlefield” last weekend as police and troops cracked down on nationwide rallies defying the military junta which seized power from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi a month ago.
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, noted on last Sunday’s Feast of the Transfiguration that the Gospel, "is so current that it reflects the events of these days” and he asked, “what transfiguration are we looking for in Myanmar today?” He urged a peaceful transformation through “reconciliation and dialogue”.
Bishop Alexander Pyone Cho Pyay diocese, said, "we are living in the time of Lent, in which every Christian is invited to use the weapons of prayer, fasting and charity; this is the path that we will follow as Christians, asking God for a peaceful solution to the crisis the country is experiencing".
Christians have been heavily involved in the nonviolent civil disobedience movement but many saw bullets, stun grenades and teargas used against them last weekend.
A video went viral last Sunday of a religious sister who took to the streets of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State in the north, kneeling before a line of police officers, pleading for restraint in dealing with young demonstrators protesting peacefully.
Sister Ann Nu Thawng of the Congregation of St. Francis Xavier did appear to stun the police and more than 100 demonstrators were able to find shelter in her monastery, possibly saving them beatings and arrests by the police. Joseph Kung Za Hmung, a lay Catholic and editor of the Gloria News Journal, the first Catholic online newspaper in Myanmar, said: "The action of the nun and the response of the police who, upon seeing the nun's plea, stopped, surprised many of us.”
However, that same day saw harsh repression by the Burmese police elsewhere, who, according to the United Nations, opened fire, killing 18 people and injuring more than 30 nationwide. Hundreds were arrested. In many places demonstrators were attacked with sticks, stones and knives, trying to spread fear among the peaceful crowds.