Yangon (Agenzia Fides) - "There is a stalemate. Conflict broke our communities. Rebuilding trust and rebuilding our institutions will be a long arduous task. The conflict is becoming more brutal, the atrocities are more shocking each day. Our people are not resigned. They seek peace with dignity. A country that will be reborn through reconciliation. Violence is not the only way to confront evil, nor is it an effective way. It tends to breed more violence. There is always the path of dialogue, peace and reconciliation". This is what Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar said in a message marking the anniversary of the February 1, 2021 coup d'état, when the Burmese army seized power by deposing the government of the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The coup triggered a large wave of protests and strikes, which were suppressed by the military and escalated into a civil war in the months that followed, with "People's Defense Forces" forming across the country opposing the military junta.
The Cardinal recalled that a year ago, he "pleaded with the army not to inflict harm on the sons and daughters of this nation". And he said: "I sought release of all political prisoners. I feared for the youth. Those messages remain till today. As a Salesian I have special concern for youth. I appealed to the youth directly many times, saying that I understand their pain, though I may not agree with their solutions. I am deeply concerned that this nation may lose its youth either to total frustration or hatred or desire for revenge". But, he says emphatically, "it is urgent to stop the fighting, cease the violence, allow humanitarian assistance to the displaced people".
In the message sent to Fides, Cardinal Bo observes that "the Churches have suffered greatly because many of the areas of ethnic minorities where much of the fighting is now has high numbers of Christian people. Churches have been hit by artillery and airstrikes. All kinds of people have suffered in this unfortunate tear-filled saga. Everybody is affected.
Millions of people are hungry".
In addition, thousands of people are unjustly imprisoned, victims of violence: "They should be released immediately. So many of these people were running the government a year ago. They are our people and they need to be released and involved in the reconciliation process", he hopes.
In this troubled situation, the Cardinal notes, "the world can show greater attention to solving the issues of Myanmar. Of course, the world is distracted by the terrible events in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Ethiopia, but Myanmar is also torn apart and the economy is collapsing". "We appreciate that the international community - he continues - including China and Japan as well as ASEAN, has a role to play. The US is encouraging ASEAN to exercise a clear role. In this way ASEAN can also grow in solidarity among its members. ASEAN has put minimal conditions for Myanmar participation as a member: stop the armed attacks, release all political prisoners, allow dialogue among stakeholders, provide urgent access for humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian aid must get through to the people in need, both within the country and at our frontiers".
"Pope Francis - concludes Cardinal Bo's message - gave a great mission for the church to be the peace maker in this country. My Christmas meeting was intended to fulfil that mandate. Everyone has a role to play in seeking peace, in praying for peace. Peace is the only way and the Church in Myanmar needs to work together with all other religious brothers and sisters in bringing peace". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 1/2/2022)