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Yangon – Insurgent fighting continues in Myanmar. In the big cities of Yangon and Mandalay there is daily fighting between the army and the so-called People’s Defense Forces. “The situation in Myanmar is worsening”, notes a local source of Fides on the popular uprising that began after the February 1st military coup and the political, economic and social unrest with daily protests against the government. The military entered towns and villages and arrested former members and supporters of the National League for Democracy across the country. “The military perpetrates human rights abuses and sometimes even mass killings”, says Fides source. More than 1,000 civilians have been killed in Myanmar since the coup.
In the face of a torn social fabric and a country weakened by fighting and the pandemic wave, the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Archbishop of Yangon, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, has once again publicly called for peace and justice.
In his homily on August 22nd, he stated that “a government which does not obtain its legitimacy from the people does not get its legitimacy from God”. “True power, as Pope Francis has often said, comes from service”, he continued. “Not by forcibly imposing power on the innocent”. “In any just country, the government is not above the people. The government is one eye, the people are the other: two eyes make a vision”, said the Archbishop, recalling that “a nation must be built on justice. All the rest is idolatry”.
Cardinal Bo expressed his regret over the situation in his country, which “was born with a great dream of peace and prosperity for all”. “We saw the selfish interests of a few who seek the bread that perishes and the millions of people steal the bread of peace, the bread of life and the bread of prosperity”, he said. The Cardinal noted that those in power have betrayed the ideals of justice and peace, stressing that they are trapped in their own idols: “power, possessions, extreme wealth” that create “economic injustice and environmental injustice”. “Idolatry has also betrayed the great ideals of ‘metta’ and ‘karuna’ ,” which are typical of Buddhist culture. “Over the past seven decades these idolaters have stolen the ideal of a nation built on peace and prosperity for all. A dream has become a nightmare”. And in this context he expressly condemns “the human suffering following the numerous deaths in the country affected by a coup in the past six months”.
The Cardinal also recalled the worsening of the Covid-19 crisis which devastates the country.
Healthcare service is also in great trouble because thousands of doctors and nurses have joined the mass movement of civil disobedience. He praised the service of the staff and volunteers, including Catholics, in the health facilities and described this commitment as “the greatest humanitarian testimony” in times of a pandemic. And he said, “Once again the people of Myanmar have given a great testimony of generosity in helping those affected”. The prelate urged people “not to lose their humanity” but “to distinguish through all trials what is ideal and what is rather an idol”. “Our pilgrimage towards respect for human dignity is a long march that can only be sustained through the words of eternal life, only thanks to the Bread that has come from heaven”, concluded the Cardinal.