Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Peace talks begin, yet armies face off in Myanmar
Villagers flee to Kachin refugee camps
General Gun Maw of the Kachin Independence Army speaks during peace talks this week (AFP photo)
- John Zaw, Mandalay
- October 9, 2013
More than 100 villagers have fled their homes in southern Kachin state amid a standoff between Myanmar troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), despite the two sides currently engaging in ceasefire talks.
“At least 800 troops have been deployed in Mansi township and both the military and the Kachin rebels are preparing positions for fighting,” said Zaw Bauk, head of the Kachin Baptist Convention. “They seem to be waiting for word from the peace talks in Myitkyina.”
He said that around 130 civilians, mostly women, from surrounding villages arrived in a KBC-administered refugee camp close to Mansi on Monday. The group has provided food, clothing and shelter.
Lar Nu, who was among those to arrive in the camp, said: “We fled from our villages just two hours before the troops arrived. Otherwise, we would have been trapped in the village and unable to leave. The troop positions are just one mile from our villages.
“We are very concerned for the remaining villagers, who can’t flee because the soldiers have already reached there,” he added.
The Myanmar government on Tuesday began peace talks with the KIA, against whom it has been fighting intermittently since June 2011. Despite various stabs at dialogue over the past year, tensions remain high in the region and sporadic fighting has continued over the past two months.
Similar reports circulated of military reinforcements in Putao Township, northern Kachin state, in late September.
Aung Naing Oo, from the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC), which is involved in the negotiations, said that both sides have tried to discuss ways of reducing military tension.
President Thein Sein has twice since June 2011 ordered his troops not to attack the Kachin, but the calls have not been heeded.
Aung Naing Oo denied that there was any miscommunication between the government and the army, given that high level military personnel were attending the negotiations, alongside the government’s peace committee.
Fr Lazum Tu, from Namlim Pa village, Banmaw Diocese, confirmed that military reinforcements had been deployed along a road in Mansi that acts as a key transport link for teak and jade, although no fighting has taken place.
“When the military has taken the opportunity of peace talks to deploy reinforcements, it will be a long time before permanent peace is reached, and may damage trust building,” he said. “So I have no high expectation from the current peace talks for tangible results.”