A Catholic missionary in Myanmar has hit out at the international community for doing little about the military’s repression of protests opposed to the coup that ousted the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
Speaking anonymously to The Tablet, the missionary said the people of Myanmar had endured “60 Good Fridays” since the 1 February coup.
“What the military and police are doing would take tears from stone. They’re brutally killing people. The senior generals have told the military and police to shoot people in the head. And that has been the reality. They’re not fighting a foreign enemy or foreign soldiers: they are killing their own people. That is very hard to accept.”
He warned that if there was a civil war in the country, there would be “much more bloodshed”.
“Unfortunately, all the international community do is condemn. The military do not care about condemnations. They have got the military equipment: the tanks, guns, water cannons – everything.”
The missionary, whose name and location is known to The Tablet, said that over the past 60 days more than 500, mostly young people, have been killed.
“Last Saturday, the eve of Palm Sunday, they killed 114 people, seven of those were children.” The missionary recounted how a five-year-old girl had been shot dead after police broke into her family home and the child ran to sit on her father’s knee.
“It’s totally inhumane,” the missionary said. “To watch the scenes of brutality on the streets where they catch a protester, and about 20 soldiers share in beating that protester with batons and kicking them. And if the person is unable to walk to the police van, they make the person creep on their hands and knees, kicking them as they go.”
Expressing his admiration for the courage and determination of the protestors to fight for justice and democracy, the missionary choked up admitting it is “very difficult to pray” under the present circumstances. “All I can hope is that the many tears I’ve shed for the people of Myanmar are liquid prayers. But it’s hard to see any hope.”
The events that have unfolded since February, the missionary suggested, must be looked at in the context of Holy Week.
“That first Good Friday, the disciples were very disappointed that Jesus was crucified and died – their hope collapsed and their dream for the future collapsed. However, on Easter Sunday morning, as we know, when Jesus rose from the dead, their dream became a reality again and they were full of happiness and full of enthusiasm. Holy Week is a time of waiting for the joy of the resurrection.”
The missionary said he hopes Myanmar’s protesters, despite the risk to their lives, “have the courage, energy and spiritual support to continue their struggle so that they can have a better life; get democracy; get justice and have better economic conditions for their people”.
He said: “May they continue to struggle peacefully as they have done. They already know that people around the world are thinking of them, admire them and are praying for them. This gives them encouragement and moral support. The darkest hour comes before the dawn.”