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Pope Francis hears Myanmar people's 'cry of pain'

Pontiff appeals to the international community not to forget the sufferings of people in the conflict-torn nation

Pope Francis speaks from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's Square during the weekly Angelus prayer in the Vatican on June 19

Pope Francis speaks from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's Square during the weekly Angelus prayer in the Vatican on June 19. (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 20, 2022 06:03 AM GMT

Updated: June 20, 2022 06:18 AM GMT

Pope Francis has joined Myanmar’s bishops in appealing for respecting human lives along with the sanctity of places of worship, hospitals and schools in the conflict-torn country.

“Yet again we hear the cry of pain of so many people in Myanmar who still lack basic humanitarian aid and who are forced to leave their homes because they are burned down and to escape violence,” he said.

The pope also called on the international community not to forget the sufferings of Myanmar’s people and take action to end their suffering since the coup in February 2021.

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His plea came after the recitation of the Angelus prayer on June 19, which marked Corpus Christi Sunday.

“Human dignity and the right to life can never be compromised. We strongly demand respect for life, respect for the sanctity of sanctuary in places of worship, hospitals and schools again,” Myanmar's bishops had said in a joint statement on June 11 after a general assembly held in Yangon.

Pope Francis has spoken several times about the crisis in Myanmar, which he regards with much affection after visiting the country in November 2017.

Despite the calls for an end to violence, the junta has shown no signs of easing the oppression of civilians in ethnic regions including the predominantly Christian and Bamar-majority regions

He has repeatedly called for military leaders to stop the violence, release all detained people and pursue dialogue to seek peace and reconciliation.

Despite the calls for an end to violence, the junta has shown no signs of easing the oppression of civilians in ethnic regions including the predominantly Christian and Bamar-majority regions.

Dozens of churches including Catholic churches in Kayah and Chin states have been destroyed in airstrikes and artillery shelling, while thousands of people including Christians have been displaced, some fleeing into neighboring India.

Since last year’s coup, at least 1,900 killings by the military have been reported, nearly one million have been internally displaced and around 14 million remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations Human Rights Office.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet recently called for support in pursuing accountability from Myanmar’s military junta for its ongoing and past human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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