On the bloodiest day since the coup in Myanmar, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, leader of the country’s Catholics, has made a fresh appeal for peace in the beleaguered nation.
A letter from Cardinal Bo calling for an end to bloodshed was released on Sunday March 14 – the same day that it was reported that up to 50 people were killed when government forces opened fire on protesters.
In his letter, a copy of which was sent to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Cardinal Bo wrote: “We urge all parties in Myanmar to seek peace. Over the last weeks, we have undergone great challenges as a nation. This crisis will not be resolved by bloodshed. Seek peace!”
The cardinal, who is Archbishop of Yangon (Rangoon), added: “The killings must stop at once. So many have perished.”
According to Burma’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 126 have died since the military junta seized control on February 1. Over last weekend, martial law was declared in six districts of Yangon following arson attacks on Chinese-owned factories.
It is believed China has provided support for the military in the latest coup. Most of March 14’s deaths occurred in the Hlaing Tharyar and Shwepyitha districts of Yangon, where the factories are located.
In a tweet, the Civil Disobedience Movement, which has been coordinating protests, denied responsibility for the attacks on the factories, stating the “terrorist junta is totally responsible for burning down the Chinese factories.”
Calling for a cessation to all violence, Cardinal Bo added: “The blood spilled is not the blood of an enemy. It is the blood of our own sisters and brothers, our own citizens.
“We are a nation of dreams. Our young have been living in hope. Let us not become a nation of senseless disappointment. Stop all killing. Cease from violence. Abandon the path of atrocities. Let all the innocent be released. They are our own people.”
The letter also emphasized the pope’s solidarity with all the people of Myanmar, adding that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, also encouraged the Church to become involved in peace-making.
Cardinal Bo concluded: “Fortified by the mandate and encouragement of the Vatican, we, the Catholic Church, commit ourselves, together with all people of good will, to the task of seeing this nation rise up again in mutual understanding and peace.”
This article was first published by Aid to the Church in Need and is republished here with kind permission. To learn more about ACN’s mission to help the suffering Church, visit www.churchinneed.org