It is with grief and sadness that we have been following the recent incidents of seizure of power by the powerful military and the inhuman atrocities on the peaceful demonstrations of the citizens who are demanding the democracy back. On 1 February 2021 the military officials staged a coup d’tat to dethrone from power democratically elected government, imprisoning government ministers and MPs including the President and Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the League for National Democracy and state adviser. The military accused the government of fraud in the recent election as well as of widespread corruption. After the coup General Hlaing, army chief, in his first public announcement justified the takeover and said that the military was on the side of the people and form a ‘true and disciplined democracy’. But in fact there has been no restrain at all and we have been seeing on TV screen daily that the military is shooting people whose only fault is their craving for democracy and peace. So far they have killed more than 600 unarmed people in peaceful protest rallies.
The protests over the coup have been largest since the so-called Saffron Revolution in 2007. The protesters include teachers, students, lawyers, bank officials and government workers. The Christians of all denomination also came down in the street with their fellow citizens. The military attempted to terrorize people, but instead they were ready to die on the street. The Catholic Church too has taken side of the people on the streets of Myanmar and its solidarity. HE Charles Maung Bo, the head of the Myanmar Church, in his statement called for calm to all sections of people. He requested the military to release the imprisoned President, ministers, MPs and especially Aung San Su Kyi and to start a dialogue to resolve the national crisis.
The Church in Myanmar are apprehensive of the future of the faithful in some ethnic communities, viz. Kachin, Karen, Shan groups. Because the Myanmar military which ruled the country for many years in the past have always promoted Buddhist culture and traditions dismantling the cultures and traditions found in other religions. It is well feared that the military will do it again and will put many undue restrictions on the Churches.
We the Catholic Church in Bangladesh are the close neighbours of the Church in Myanmar, express our support and solidarity to the people and the Church in that country. We too share the pain and suffering of the peace-loving people of Myanmar who only want the democracy back, nothing more. We the Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh on behalf of our faithful kneel down with Sr. Ann Nu Thawng, who on 28 February knelt in front of the military and pleaded with them to stop shooting the innocent people and instead to shoot her. We too suffer when the people of Myanmar suffer. We too as neighbours feel the pain in our heart for the deprivation and oppression of the people of Myanmar. Church in Bangladesh cannot but have the same experience of oppression with the Church in Myanmar. We call on the military junta of Myanmar to be sensible sense and to sit with the relevant people for dialogue in order to solve this political crisis of the country, instead of shooting their own fellow citizens. We join the Church in Myanmar in prayers and adorations seeking God’s love and mercy on the people and nation of Myanmar.
+ Bishop Gervas Rozario
Chairman, Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace