A protester waves the National League for Democracy flag while others take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on Feb. 22. (Photo: AFP)
Religions for Peace Myanmar and Religions for Peace international have strongly condemned the shedding of the blood of innocents and called on all stakeholders “to de-escalate the sad turn of events in the streets of Myanmar.”
The organizations said they stand with the people of Myanmar in their quest for the sacredness of life. It said the recent developments have fragmented the nation.
“A long-suffering nation can be healed only through dialogue, not violence in the streets,” the religious leaders said.
They said the poor of the country, already facing multiple challenges including the lethal pandemic, loss of livelihood and food insecurity, urgently need peace for survival.
“We plead with all, especially the army, please return to the dialogue table to reconcile all issues.”
Religions for Peace brings together leaders from diverse faith traditions, investing in a vision of a world without war and violence, and has appreciated the gains of peace and democracy in the past decade by working with all stakeholders in Myanmar.
The leaders also strongly appeal to ASEAN as the regional body committed to “peace, stability and prosperity, to urgently offer its good services to Myanmar” as a member state.
They said the ASEAN Charter commits its members to democracy and human rights, the rule of law and good governance. “This is a time to step up its service to the people of Myanmar, including all ethnic minorities, before it is too late.”
Cardinal Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon, is co-president of Religions for Peace International and the patron of Religions for Peace Myanmar.
The appeal from interfaith leaders comes as the Southeast Asian nation has seen daily protests against the Feb. 1 military coup. Three protesters were killed in violent crackdowns by Myanmar’s security forces in Mandalay and Naypyitaw.
A nationwide general strike on Feb. 22, the biggest show of public opposition to military rule, was held in several cities, drawing tens of thousands of people from various religions and ethnicities.
Myanmar’s coup was among the issues the UN’s top human rights body was due to address as it opened its highest-level meeting on Feb. 22.
During his opening speech, UN secretary-seneral Antonio Guterres called on the Myanmar military to stop the repression immediately.
“Release the prisoners. End the violence. Respect human rights and the will of the people expressed in recent elections,” Guterres said, insisting that “coups have no place in our modern world.”
On Feb. 22, the United States imposed sanctions on two more generals, Moe Myint Tun and Maung Maung Kyaw, who are members of the State Administrative Council which the military junta set up after toppling the elected government headed by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.
The new sanctions freeze any assets that the two generals might have in the US and bar American companies and individuals from doing business with them.
Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing was among the 10 generals singled out for sanctions imposed on Feb. 11.
The European Union agreed at a foreign ministers’ meeting on Feb. 22 to impose selected sanctions on Myanmar’s military leaders, though no details were released.
Britain and Canada have already imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s generals. The military junta has not responded to sanctions imposed by the US, Britain and Canada.