ASIA/MYANMAR - Appeal for ceasefire: "Peace is the greatest gift"

Saturday, 14 January 2023 peace   civil war  

Yangon (Agenzia Fides) - "We urgently ask the parties for a ceasefire. We ask that they lay down their arms and seek a peaceful solution. We see many people suffering and it is necessary to create humanitarian corridors in areas of extreme humanitarian crisis, which allow all organizations, local and foreign, to assist displaced people", says to Agenzia Fides Joseph Kung, a lay Catholic from Yangon, head of a private university institute, interpreting the feelings and desires of Catholics and many other citizens of other confessions, in the country tormented by an internal conflict between the army and the Popular Defense Forces (PDF), born in the aftermath of the coup.
Currently, he notes, there is an urgent need "to alleviate the suffering of the millions of people who, in many areas of the country, have been forced to flee their homes and seek precarious shelters".
For this reason, the appeal for peace, from the population, exhausted by months of conflict, is addressed to the State Administration Council (SAC), that is, to the military junta in power; but also the National Unity Government (NUG), which is in exile, and the Popular Defense Forces (PDF).
Many Burmese faithful spent the Christmas season as displaced people, in camps set up by parishes or by Karuna (as the Burmese Caritas is called) or scattered through the forests, where they are camped to stay away from the fighting and preserve the lives of the elderly, women and children. Tension and fear are felt above all in areas where clashes and fighting are more violent, even in Burmese states inhabited mainly by Christian ethnic minorities, such as Kachin, Kayah, Karen and Chin. Often, the baptized have sought consolation and refuge in the churches, finding welcome and solidarity. But churches and schools have also been affected.
In this context of widespread violence, Catholics remember Pope Francis' trip to Myanmar. The Pope entrusted the Catholic Church of Myanmar with the mission of "building peace and healing the world". Carrying this responsibility and this mandate in their hearts, the faithful, united with their Pastors, invoke "the greatest gift, which is peace" and pray intensely for peace.
In his New Year's message, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and President of the Myanmar Bishops' Conference, also made a strong appeal for peace, quoting the words of Pope Francis: "Myanmar hungers for peace."
According to the "Myanmar Peace Monitor", run by fifteen independent Burmese newspapers, united in the "Burma News International" network, the civil conflict in Myanmar worsens day by day, while violence and reprisals by the Burmese army continue.
In December 2022, the UN Security Council adopted its first resolution on Myanmar in 74 years. The resolution calls for an end to the violence and urges the country's military rulers to release all political prisoners, including the democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 14/1/2023)