Updated: March 22, 2021 10:17 AM GMT
A resident receives medical attention after being injured during a crackdown by security forces on demonstrations against the military coup, in Mandalay on March 22. (Photo: AFP)
Catholics in Buddhist-majority Myanmar are seeking divine help to end the bloodshed as the country has been in turmoil following the military coup on Feb. 1.
Some dioceses have appealed to Catholics to fast, say the rosary, and conduct adoration and novena prayers with the intention of bringing a peaceful solution to the Southeast Asian nation’s political crisis.
The diocese of Taungngu designated March 21 a day of fasting and prayers and the clergy, religious, catechists and laypeople were urged to participate in their respective places from 6 am to 6 pm.
The clergy were urged to start with Mass at 6 am followed by Adoration of Blessed Sacrament until 6 pm.
For places where there are no priests, laypeople have been urged to start with morning prayers followed by saying the rosary in groups.
“We all know and feel that the ongoing crisis in our motherland Myanmar is accelerating. I believe that it is the duty of every citizen to bring peace,” Bishop Isaac Danu said.
In Lashio diocese in northern Shan state, the bishop, priests, religious and laypeople have observed one-hour adoration every Thursday and say the rosary every Saturday, while Pathein diocese has conducted novena and prayers for peace in the country since early March.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Myanmar had also called for a day of special prayers, fasting and adoration on Feb. 7.
“This crisis will not be resolved by bloodshed. Seek peace,” Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon tweeted on March 20.
Pope Francis has repeatedly called for an end to the violence and urged to have a dialogue to end the deadlock, but the military junta has ignored it.
The nation has seen daily killings, arrests, and horrific acts of indiscriminately shooting pro-democracy protesters and civilians at home as the junta has ratcheted up its bloody crackdown to quell the protests and threaten unarmed civilians.
Undeterred by live bullets and threats, brave anti-coup protesters have continued to march in cities and towns across the country to publicly show their defiance against the military which had ruled the country for more than five decades.
Teachers from the Education Department held a dawn protest in Amarapura township near Mandalay on March 22 followed by doctors and nurses marching at dawn in Mandalay on March 21.
Candle-lit vigils and night protests were also held in several cities over the weekend.
As of March 21, at least 250 people have been killed and more than 2,665 have been detained, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.
Amid the military’s unleashed terror against unarmed civilians, Indonesia and Malaysia have called for an urgent high-level special meeting of ASEAN on Myanmar’s crisis.
Brunei is currently chair of the 10-member bloc. Lawmakers from Southeast Asia have urged Brunei to urgently organize a meeting of ASEAN leaders as suggested by the President of Indonesia and to extend an invitation to UN Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener to attend.
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights said the international community has turned to ASEAN to rein in Myanmar’s military, yet despite efforts by some member states, so far the regional grouping has been missing in action, and the Myanmar military has displayed total disregard for calls for its restraint.