ASIA/MYANMAR - Cardinal Bo appeals after church bombs: it is a humanitarian tragedy, stop the attacks

Wednesday, 26 May 2021 peace   reconciliation   wars   politics   civil society   religious leader  

Yangon (Agenzia Fides) - "It is with immense pain that we express our concern over the attack on innocent civilians who took refuge in the Church of the Sacred Heart on the night of May 23", said Cardinal Charles Maung Bo Archbishop of Yangon and President of the Burmese Bishops' Conference, in a heartfelt appeal that condemns "acts of violence and ongoing heavy-weapon bombing attacks on a frightened group of women and children". The Cardinal refers to the recent attacks by armed forces on villages in the Loikaw area, in the Burmese state of Kayah in the east of Mynamar, on the border with Thailand. In the village of Kayanthayar, the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart was also attacked by mortars. Four people died and many more were injured, including women and children. The church building was badly damaged, "which testifies the intensity of the attack on a place of worship", which forced the displaced who had found shelter to flee into the jungle. Now thousands of people are exhausted, says the Cardinal, who complains that there is a lack of food, water, shelter, hygiene and medicine. "Among them there are many children and the elderly who are starving and without medical assistance", notes the Archbishop who affirmed: "It is a great humanitarian tragedy". Cardinal Bo's appeal recalls all the international conventions on the protection of churches, temples, schools, hospitals, and places of historical and cultural value even during conflicts, but focuses above all on one aspect, that of the civil war: "I want to remind you that the blood that has been shed is not the blood of an enemy; those who died and those who were injured are the citizens of this country. They were not armed; they were inside the church to protect their families. Every heart in this country mourns the death of innocent people". Cardinal Bo is also a member of the “Religions for Peace” organization, which unites religious leaders from different communities. All of them renew the appeal for peace, in a country that could soon face a new wave of Covid-19. "The current conflict is a cruel anomaly. Peace is possible, peace is the only way", said Cardinal Bo, referring to the well-being of the people of Myanmar. "Let us pray for peace in this great country - concludes the Cardinal's message - and we hope that in the future we can all live as brothers and sisters in this great nation". Burmese religious leaders (Christians, Buddhists and other religions) expressed their willingness to participate in a consultative forum on peace and reconciliation as an open space for dialogue, based on "the desire for peace and respect for the sanctity of human life and the fundamental rights of all citizens". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 26/5/2021)