UCA News
Myanmar people observe ‘silent protest’ as the world looks away

Protesters in Myanmar marked the second anniversary of the military coup with a “silent strike.” Christians joined prayers for peace in the conflict-torn nation.

Published: February 03, 2023 11:11 AM GMT

Updated: February 03, 2023 11:11 AM GMT

Christians joined anti-junta activists in Myanmar to mark the second anniversary of the military coup with a “silent strike” in major cities this Wednesday. The protesters called on people in the conflict-torn nation to join the strike by staying indoors or keeping quiet on the streets and for shops and businesses to close from 10 am to 4 pm.

Local media reported that to counter the strike the junta planned pro-military rallies in major cities such as Yangon and Mandalay.

Christ the King Cathedral in the strife-torn Loikaw diocese located in Christian majority Kayah state, urged people to pray for peace on the coup anniversary. The papal foundation, Aid to the Church in Need, held global solidarity prayer meetings for Myanmar from Jan. 30 to Feb.1.

Meanwhile, the junta has extended a two-year state of emergency for another six months as the military rulers concluded earlier that "normalcy had not returned" yet to the country.

A man crosses an almost empty street during a 'silent strike' to protest and mark the second anniversary of the coup in Yangon on Feb 1. Streets in the commercial hub Yangon were largely empty from late morning after activists called for people across the country to close businesses and stay indoors from 10am to 4pm

A man crosses an almost empty street during a 'silent strike' to protest and mark the second anniversary of the coup in Yangon on Feb 1. Streets in the commercial hub Yangon were largely empty from late morning after activists called for people across the country to close businesses and stay indoors from 10am to 4pm. (Photo: AFP)

The Pontificate: Contribute to help UCA News

Catholic bishops in the southern Indian state of Kerala have deplored the burning of the Bible allegedly by a Muslim man presumably in retaliation for the burning of the Quran by a far-right politician and anti-Islam provocateur in Europe.

Police arrested the suspect after he uploaded video footage of the burning of a vernacular copy of the Bible on social media, which went viral. Spokesperson of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council said the action was a deliberate attempt to create community discord and demanded the guilty be punished.

Members of the Students Christian Movement of India and other activists stage a protest in Bangalore on Jan. 19, 2016. (Photo: AFP)

Police said the man identified as Mohammed Mustafa is mentally unstable but many now believe he may be creating a false impression to escape the law.

Muslims in many parts of the world staged protests against the Quran burning in Europe but those in India refrained from reacting in a similar manner. In neighboring Pakistan, Muslims and Christians joined rallies to denounce the burning of the Quran.

A suicide blast at a mosque inside the police headquarters in Peshawar city of Pakistan on Monday left 100 dead, most of them policemen. Between 300 and 400 policemen had gathered for afternoon prayers at the mosque when the blast blew an entire wall and most of the roof, showering rubble on officers.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing. Police said it was a revenge attack on the security forces. It now appears that the suicide bomber was in police uniform. Low-level militancy, often targeting security checkpoints, has been steadily rising in areas near Peshawar that border Afghanistan since the Taliban seized control of Kabul in August 2021.

Authorities use heavy machinery to clear the rubble and search for victims a day after a suicide blast at a mosque inside the police headquarters in Peshawar on Jan. 31. (Photo: AFP)

The assaults are claimed mostly by the Pakistani Taliban, and also the local chapter of the Islamic State, but mass casualty attacks remain rare. The White House on Tuesday called the attack "unconscionable" while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said such violence was "abhorrent."

Church groups joined the rights forums to deplore the deadly attack and called on the government to implement the anti-terrorism National Action Plan formed following the 2014 massacre of more than 130 school children by Taliban militants in Peshawar.

The Department of Fisheries in the Philippines declared Manila Bay a “dead body of water” due to extreme pollution. It claimed the bay was lifeless due to a lack of oxygen and that no fish or living thing can survive in its waters.

The Fisheries Department as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources urged fishermen to stop fishing in the bay.  Environmental experts tested and found the bay’s water polluted largely due to at least a dozen oil spills over the past 20 years.

Fishermen are seen in Manila Bay in this file image. The Philippine authorities have declared Manila Bay 'dead' due to pollution. (Photo: Ronald Dionisio)

The fisheries department conducted a study on traces of metals such as copper, cadmium, and zinc on the surface of the water coming from the bay’s seabed. Local fishermen disputed the government’s proclamation.

Experts blamed seabed quarrying, as well as land-based human activities, including the discharge of municipal, industrial, and agricultural wastes, land runoff, and atmospheric deposition, for the extreme pollution.

Timor Leste’s former president and four-time Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has come under fire for joining the birthday party of a defrocked American priest jailed for child sex abuse.

The photos and videos showing Gusmao celebrating the 86th birthday of his long-time friend Richard Daschbach in Becora Prison in the capital Dili on Jan. 26 sparked debates on social media. Photos showed Gusmao, flanked by some other guests, cutting and sharing cake while smiling.

Timor Leste’s former president and four-time prime minister Xanana Gusmao (left) celebrate the birthday of Richard Daschbach, in Becora Prison in the capital Dili, on Jan. 26. (Photo: Facebook)

Daschbach was sentenced to 12 years in jail in December 2021 for sexually abusing several minors in a childcare home he founded in the 1990s. The Vatican dismissed him from the priesthood in 2018.

Supporters of the abuse victims said Gusmao’s act hurt them and it was like a slap in the face to the victims. Despite his crimes and punishment, Daschbach continues to enjoy support from the country’s social and political circles for his contributions to Timor-Leste’s struggle for independence from Indonesia.

At least 10 ethnic Korean refugee families who fled from war-torn Ukraine to South Korea face the threat of deportation after their request for a visa extension was denied by the government.

Mission In Asia: Contribute to help UCA News

They have been residing in "Koryoin Village" in Gwangju, the sixth-largest city in South Korea. "Koryoin" refers to descendants of Koreans who migrated to former Soviet states during the period of the Joseon dynasty and Japan’s imperial rule in Korea.

Ethnic Koreans in Ukraine are seen in this file image. Ethnic Korean refugees who fled from war-torn Ukraine to South Korea face a threat of deportation after the government refused to extend their visas. (Photo: https://ukrainer.net)

An estimated 500,000 Koryoins are settled in former Soviet states including Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. Lee Chun-Yeong, a pastor at Gwangju Koryoin Village Church, said the government should not forget that it has promised to support Ukrainian refugees until the situation stabilizes in Ukraine.

South Korean government issued refugees a travel permit and a short-term 90-day visa which was later upgraded to a refugee visa with a validity of six months, which expires in April. If their visas are not extended further refugees might be deported to Ukraine.

The president of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing legislative council has accused the UK-based Commonwealth Parliamentary Association of “blatant political bias” after it revoked the invites issued to the city’s lawmakers for a global seminar.

Andrew Leung stated that the move was an attempt to “derogate and sideline Hong Kong.” Leung’s remarks came after the parliamentary association last week withdrew the invites issued to Hong Kong lawmakers citing “the deteriorating situation” in the territory. The 70th Westminster Seminar on Effective Parliaments is scheduled to be held from March 14 to 18, 2023, in London.

Delegates join a session during the 68th Westminster Seminar on Effective Parliaments in London, UK, in 2019. (Photo: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, UK)

The annual seminar draws lawmakers from 180 legislatures from Commonwealth territories around the world. A former British colony, Hong Kong has seen its basic freedoms and autonomy erode significantly as Beijing tightens its grip.

Chinese regime imposed electoral reforms to make the city’s legislature a rubber stamp by allowing only “patriots.” The pro-Beijing regime passed repressive national security law in 2020 to snuff out all forms of dissent. 

A group of Catholics in Japan have launched an initiative to produce videos to showcase the traditional rites and rituals of Christians who endured persecution for centuries. The move comes as the centuries old practices face extinction due to declining followers and modernization.

The recordings will feature baptisms, Easter, and other rites in a traditional format as were followed by “hidden Christians” or Kakure Kirishitans who were persecuted in the 17th to 19th centuries and until the last few decades.

Christians pray for victims during a mass to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing at the Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki, western Japan, on Aug. 9, 2017. (Photo: Jiji Press/ AFP)

Seventy six-year-old Kazutoshi Kakimori,a descendant of Kakure Kirishitans has teamed up with Catholic priests to use videos to show future generations how the rites and rituals were practiced by the hidden Christians.

The Kakure Kirishitan rites are no longer practiced and face a threat of extinction as the elders who still know about them are dying. Today, the descendants of Kakure Kirishitans are concentrated mostly on Naru Island of Nagasaki. Their population has reportedly dropped from 9,000 in 1960 to only 1,900 at present.

A Catholic diocese in Vietnam celebrated a special requiem Mass and burial for 700 aborted fetuses last Sunday. Catholics in the Xuan Loc diocese in the southwest of Vietnam who participated in the ceremony dedicated themselves to raising awareness of human dignity in a country where students lead the pack in seeking abortions.

Hundreds of pro-life volunteers attended the program and buried the fetuses in the church cemetery which is home to over 62,000 unborn babies.

Fathers Joseph Nguyen Van Tich (left) and Vincent Nguyen Minh Tien bless dead fetuses at Bac Hai Church before burying them on Jan. 29. (Photo: giaophanxuanloc.net)

Before the burial, the dead fetuses were cleaned with alcohol, wrapped in white cloth, given names, decorated with flowers, and placed in the church for people to pray for.

Vietnam has a population of 99.4 million and it records 300,000 terminations per year, mainly among girls aged 15-19, nearly 70 percent of them, students. Pro-life volunteers collect 700-1,500 dead fetuses, including stillbirths each month.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Lent is the season during which catechumens make their final preparations to be welcomed into the Church.
Each year during Lent, UCA News presents the stories of people who will join the Church in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is their Lord. The stories of how women and men who will be baptized came to believe in Christ are inspirations for all of us as we prepare to celebrate the Church's chief feast.
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
UCA News

Explore UCA News

UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia