International Catholic organizations condemn Myanmar military actions

International Catholic organizations condemn Myanmar military actions

Anti-coup protesters stand at a barricade as they clash with security forces on Bayint Naung Bridge in Yangon, Myanmar, March 16, 2021. (Credit: CNS photo/Reuters.)

International Catholic organizations are condemning the actions of the Myanmar military, which has continued to crack down on protesters since its Feb. 1 coup.

YANGON, Myanmar — International Catholic organizations are condemning the actions of the Myanmar military, which has continued to crack down on protesters since its Feb. 1 coup.

SIGNIS, Pax Christi International and the Focolare movement released a joint statement that voiced solidarity with Myanmar’s citizens.

In Seoul, South Korea, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung wrote to Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, and expressed concern about the ruthless military actions.

By March 15, Myanmar’s military had killed more than 125 protesters, according to the Yangon-based rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The three Catholic organizations said in a joint statement March 15 that they had heard the message of the people of Myanmar stating that “this coup is essentially about overthrowing them, their will.”

“We deplore the extreme authoritarianism that saw fit to trample on the nation’s constitution, which in fact permitted limited democracy while maintaining much of the armed forces’ power,” said the joint statement.

“It is ultimately not about removing political opponents or supposed public order. It undoes years of patient work for the fundamental rights of citizens and crushes tenuous dreams of a free, democratic country,” the statement said.

The three groups joined the United Nations and other human rights organizations calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other detained Myanmar officials and leaders. They asked the military to stop using violence and arbitrarily detaining peaceful protesters and journalists. They called for justice and accountability for the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities, as well as prevention of such crimes and abuses in the future.

Yeom told Bo that he was joining hands with the people of Myanmar.

“I strongly support the Myanmarese and their aspiration for democracy, and I truly hope that they will get it back very soon,” he wrote. “Please know that all the clergy, religious and faithful of the Archdiocese of Seoul are sincerely praying for true democracy to be restored in the country.”

Yeom asked for Mary’s intercession for all the people of Myanmar.

Christine Schraner Burgener, the U.N. special envoy on Myanmar, condemned the continued bloodshed as the military defied international calls, including from the U.N. Security Council, for restraint, dialogue and full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“The ongoing brutality, including against medical personnel and destruction of public infrastructure, severely undermines any prospects for peace and stability,” she said in a statement March 14. “The international community, including regional actors, must come together in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and their democratic aspirations.”

She said she had heard from contacts in Myanmar heartbreaking accounts of killings, mistreatment of demonstrators and torture of prisoners.

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