ASIA/MYANMAR - The Sisters of Reparation: "We walk alongside the people, asking for peace and justice"

Monday, 11 April 2022 human rights   wars   orders   nuns  

Milan (Agenzia Fides) - "When the coup took place (February 1, 2021, ed.), I was in the Burmese state of Kayah. I also took part in the peaceful demonstrations of the Burmese people, sharing the feelings of the people, especially young people, who fear losing their freedom and democracy. In the months of March and April, our congregation in Myanmar, in collaboration with the local church, began to make its facilities available to displaced people fleeing the bombings. In our convent of Doungankha, in the diocese of Loikaw, where there is a rest house for the elderly nuns, a formation house for the young nuns and a Center for spiritual exercises, about 150 people from neighboring villages found refuge: women (some pregnant), children, the elderly". Sister Regina Khuan Num Sang, a Burmese nun from the Congregation of the Sisters of Reparation, speaks to Agenzia Fides. She arrived in Italy in April 2015, in February 2020 Regina returned to Myanmar to visit her family. She should have returned to Italy after two months but, due to the pandemic, she was unable to return. Then, the military coup that blocked her until last month.
Her testimony from a country at war for more than a year speaks of dramatic atrocities, indiscriminate bombings and fear but also speaks of solidarity, of unity against the violation of human dignity, of the law, of closeness of the Church which welcomes those affected or forced to flee. In this context, more than 380 Burmese Sisters of Reparation have been present in 13 dioceses since 1895, particularly in the most remote villages of Myanmar where the missionaries of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) introduced them to undertake a path of sharing with the local population.
"The Church of Our Lady of Peace and the house of the priests, which are next to our convent, were attacked by the army, continues Sr. Regina, and seriously damaged. Several houses were also damaged, burned by indiscriminate artillery bombardment. We saw a helicopter fly over our house, then two fighter jets came. I never thought that the military would come and hit people from the sky. We were all full of fear, we knew that this time we could not escape. I prayed a lot, trusting that the Lord would protect us until the end. The soldiers did not spare the civilians: "Sometimes they took away innocent people for no reason. One night, I was surprised by a loud noise and, looking out the window, I saw soldiers breaking down the doors of the house next to ours. Then suddenly a bright light shone into my room: I quickly hid under the table and plugged my ears, but kept my eyes open to see what was going to happen, fearing that someone would shoot. At night, they entered houses to check if people were staying with families. Sometimes, for no reason, they took away innocent people. At the end of December, due to more intense bombing, almost all the inhabitants of Loikaw, including our sisters, had to find refuge in other areas.The aerial bombardments continue and many people, especially young people, lose their lives. Sister Regina concludes: "With the sisters, we walk with the people, through tears and pain, facing the different challenges. Our nation needs the international support and solidarity of all to be able to guarantee peace and justice to its people. The call for each of us is to be peacemakers: extinguish hatred and always open up paths of dialogue".
The nun spoke at the event organized in recent days by PIME in Milan "to rekindle the light on the tragedy of the Burmese people", as Francesca Benigno of "New Humanity International", an NGO linked to PIME, committed to peace, cooperation and development explained to Fides. The "Together for Myanmar" meeting day, in collaboration with the Burmese community, held on April 9 in Milan, included a play on Father Alfredo Cremonesi (Crema, Italy, 1902 - Donoku, Myanmar, 1953) missionary of PIME in Myanmar, proclaimed blessed as "priest and martyr" on October 19, 2019. (EG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 11/4/2022)