18 March 2021, The Tablet

Cardinal Bo says nation must 'rise again'

Cardinal Bo says nation must 'rise again'

Women cry while hugging themselves after seeing the dead body of their relative killed on March 14th by security forces after they open fire toward peaceful anti military coup protesters in Yangon on Sunday.

The bishops’ conference of Myanmar sent a message last weekend to all its dioceses and to political, religious and civil society leaders, urging a halt to violence.

“Strengthened by the mandate and encouragement of the Holy See, we Catholic Churches commit ourselves, together with all people of goodwill, to the task of seeing this nation rise again in mutual understanding and peace,” said the bishops in the statement, signed by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and president of the conference.

He described February’s military coup and crackdown as plunging Myanmar into “yet another chapter of darkness, bloodshed and repression” in a talk last weekend to Christian Solidarity Worldwide. He praised “the amazing courage, commitment and creativity of our people, demonstrating throughout the country in their thousands for many days”.

Earlier this month, he asked Twitter to delete an account wrongly attributed to him, which was being picked up by media around the world. The military had been suspected by observers of deleting the account.

As security forces continue to fire live ammunition at protesters, Religious continued to place themselves before soldiers to try to stop violence.

The United Nations has condemned Myanmar military’s crackdown. A 10 March statement, signed by all 15 members of the Security Council, called for “utmost restraint” by the military and the release of last November’s election winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Amnesty International has accused Myanmar’s military of carrying out “extrajudicial executions” and at least two campaigners for her National League for Democracy have died in police custody. On Monday, she was due to appear in court, but the virtual hearing was adjourned citing internet problems.

The UN says 138 protesters have been killed since the 1 February coup, including at least 39 people on Sunday. The disbanded parliament’s special envoy to the UN, Dr Sasa, appealed to the generals to stand down, to free those detained and to return the country to democracy. If this did not happen, he predicted they would end up like Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden – “arrested or killed”.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s bishops have called for the return of democracy in Myanmar and denounced junta violence, recall- ing that South Korea also suffered from military oppression. Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, sent a letter of support to Cardinal Bo. In the Philippines, five Jesuit-run universities issued a joint statement condemning the deadly crackdown on street protests.

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