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Catholic nuns, priests join Myanmar anti-coup protests

More Catholics take part in demonstrations as security forces open fire to disperse protesters in Myitkyina

Catholic nuns, priests join Myanmar anti-coup protests

Catholic nuns pray in front of the Chinese embassy in Yangon on Feb. 12. (Photo: SJA sisters)

Published: February 15, 2021 05:41 AM GMT

More Catholic nuns, priests and laypeople have joined anti-coup protests in Buddhist-majority Myanmar following the Feb. 1 coup.

Hundreds of Catholics including dozens of nuns marched on the streets of Yangon on Feb. 14 and recited prayers and the rosary.

Youths held placards reading “Free Aung San Suu Kyi” and “We support CDM,” the latter referring to the civil disobedience movement.

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Nuns from various congregations have shown solidarity with the people of Myanmar by marching on the streets, saying prayers at convents and offering snacks to protesters in Yangon and elsewhere.

In the Christian stronghold of Kachin state, nuns stood at the entrance of a church compound while holding placards stating “No to dictatorship” and “Listen to the voices of people” while protesters swarmed the streets of Myitkyina, the state’s capital city, on Feb. 14.

Nationwide anti-coup protests have intensified for nine consecutive days in Yangon, Mandalay, villages and the ethnic regions of Kachin and Chin states.

On Feb. 14 night, security forces opened fire to disperse protesters at a power plant in Myitkyina, according to video footage shared on Facebook. Soldiers had been deployed to power plants in Kachin, sparking a confrontation with protesters.

On Feb. 14 evening, armored vehicles were seen in commercial hub Yangon, Myitkyina and Sittwe in Rakhine state, according to media reports.

Some 15 embassies including those of the European Union and Britain issued a statement late on Feb. 15 calling on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government”.

The internet in Myanmar was shut down from 1am to 9am on Feb. 15.

Spiritual closeness

The UN’s top rights body has called on Myanmar’s military to restore civilian rule and immediately release civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a resolution on Feb. 12, the 47-member Human Rights Council called for the immediate and unconditional release of all persons arbitrarily detained and the restoration of the elected government.

China and Russia disassociated themselves from the consensus and said the coup was Myanmar’s internal affair.

“To the people of Myanmar, we express our support for your rights to justice, to freedom, to democratic participation, to personal safety and security, and to peaceful, sustainable and inclusive development,” Nada Al-Nashif, deputy high commissioner for human rights, told the council.

The Holy See said it has been following with “great attention and deep concern” the developments in Myanmar, which Pope Francis visited in November 2017.

“In this most delicate moment, the Holy See wishes to assure once again its spiritual closeness, prayer and solidarity with the people of Myanmar,” Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the UN Human Rights Council, said on Feb. 12.

“The Holy See also implores that those who hold responsibility in the country will place themselves, and their actions, with sincere willingness at the service of the common good of fundamental human and civil rights, of promoting social justice and national stability, for a harmonious, democratic and peaceful coexistence.”

Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity with the people of Myanmar and called for the release of detained leaders including Suu Kyi.

The impoverished Southeast Asian nation was under military rule for more than five decades, but the democracy experiment with political, economic and social freedoms that began in 2011 was ended by the military coup.


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