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Bangladesh bishops urge dialogue to solve Myanmar crisis

Prelates express solidarity with the Myanmar people's aspirations for an end to military rule

Bangladesh bishops urge dialogue to solve Myanmar crisis

Bangladeshi bishops have called on the Myanmar military to stop shooting citizens and seek dialogue. According to the media, nearly 600 people have been killed since Feb. 1. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)

Catholic bishops in Bangladesh have denounced deadly violence in Myanmar as scores of people continue to be killed in the crackdown on nationwide anti-coup protests.

In a statement issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB), the prelates expressed solidarity with the Myanmar people’s aspirations for an end to military rule and the restoration of democracy through dialogue.

“We call on the military junta of Myanmar to be sensible 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,” said the statement released on April 6 and signed by Bishop Gervas Rozario, chairman of the commission.

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“We the Catholic Church in Bangladesh are the close neighbors of the Church in Myanmar, express our support and solidarity with 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.” 

The protests over the coup have been the largest since the so-called Saffron Revolution in 2007. The protesters include teachers, students, lawyers, bank officials and government workers. Christians of all denominations have taken to the streets with their fellow citizens.

The bishops said they wholeheartedly pray that democracy may prevail through national unity and that the desire of Myanmar people comes true as soon as possible through open-hearted dialogue with stakeholders.

The Bangladeshi bishops’ statement follows an appeal by Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, to the Korean Church for help.

“The Catholic Church too has taken the 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,” said the statement.

Myanmar's military led by General Min Aung Hlaing staged a coup on Feb. 1 and ousted the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, which had retained office after a landslide victory in the November 2020 elections. The military also arrested top NLD leaders including party chief Suu Kyi and declared a state of emergency.

Anti-coup protests erupted in various parts of Myanmar with tens of thousands of mostly peaceful protesters including Catholic clergy and nuns calling for an end to military rule and the restoration of democracy in the Southeast Asian country that endured five decades of military rule until 2015.

Myanmar police and soldiers resorted to a brutal crackdown using weapons including live ammunition and tear gas on protesters that has left nearly 600 dead and hundreds injured across the country.

“We the Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh on behalf of our faithful kneel down with Sister Ann Nu Thawng, who on February 8 knelt in front of the military and pleaded with them to stop shooting innocent people and instead to shoot her. We too suffer when the people of Myanmar suffer. We too as neighbors feel the pain in our heart for the deprivation and oppression of the people of Myanmar. The Church in Bangladesh cannot but have the same experience of oppression with the Church in Myanmar,” the CBCB said in the statement.

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