Following the military coup in Myanmar, the bishop’s conference of the country has addressed an appeal for peace to the opposing parties and the international community. “We are journeying through most challenging times of our history,” the bishops wrote in a joint statement from Feb. 4, which was obtained Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
The statement was signed by the chair of the conference, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon (Rangoon), and the general secretary of the conference, Bishop John Saw Yaw Han, auxiliary bishop of Yangon.
The bishops called upon the people of Myanmar to remain calm in spite of “the unexpected, shocking events” and to refrain from resorting to violence. “We have shed enough blood.” They remind the people that there are also non-violent forms of protest.
The conference implored physicians and health care providers, who have gone on strike to protest the actions of the military, “We are living through a time of pandemic. (…) Do not abandon your people in need at this time!”
In their statement, the bishops asked the military, which is called Tatmadaw in Myanmar, what went wrong over the past few years as the country underwent democratization. “Was there a lack of dialogue between the elected civilian authorities and the Tatmadaw?” The allegations of voting irregularities during the parliamentary elections in November, which were raised by the military, could have been resolved “by dialogue in the presence of neutral observers.”
“Now you promise greater democracy—after investigation and another election. Myanmar people are tired of empty promises,” the bishops said, addressing the military and asking how it is planning to gain the trust of the people.
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