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Statement of Support for the people of Myanmar/Burma Sponsor: Bishops of Myanmar at Lambeth Conference

Statement of Support for the people of Myanmar/Burma Sponsor: Bishops of Myanmar at Lambeth Conference

By Chris Sugden
Special to Virtueonline
August 7, 2022

We, the bishops of the worldwide Anglican Communion, called together by the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference in 2022, from the provinces of the Anglican Communion, send a statement of support to the people of Myanmar/Burma.

The Lambeth Conference notes with deep concern the on-going conflicts in Myanmar/Burma and the resulting disruption to peace and security, and the consequent displacement of people and loss of human life.

Both the situation of the Rohingya community, which has been brought before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, and that of internal law and order, have given rise to grave reservations both regionally and internationally about respect for human dignity, democratic plurality and fundamental liberty.

This includes the freedom of religion or belief, and honouring the sanctity and inviolability of places of worship.

We continue to pray for justice and reconciliation in Myanmar/Burma. We continue to encourage and support the Christian community within and without the country as they intercede wherever and whenever possible and in their efforts to bring about a durable solution that would protect and ensure the safety and well-being of all.

"Pray for God to soften the hearts of the Myanmar Military Government"

Armed Forces Day in Myanmar on March 27 marks the date in 1945 when Aung San -- the hero of 'Burmese' independence, and father of Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratic leader deposed in the recent coup -- turned his forces against the Japanese wartime occupiers.

On March 27 this year the army killed 141 people, bringing the total deaths since the protest against the army coup of February 1 2021 to 555 with almost 3000 people arrested.

The following report comes direct from a senior Christian leader in Myanmar where four villages on the Thai border each with Christian community face starvation because the border is closed due to Covid. Other Christian communities are helping them by giving them rice, cooking oil, salt, etc.

Our reporter says: "We do not know how to be good citizens and Christians in Myanmar in this difficult time. To obey the military government or to stand with the people who are anti-government?

Christians in Myanmar are not persecuted by the 'military government' but are facing the decision whether to obey or disobey the orders of military government.

Some of them disobey the orders of the military government because they say "this military government" is not real government. They say,"all top leaders in the military government are the greatest robbers and thieves in the world. So, we do not need to obey any orders they issue."

But other Christians say: "All authorities come from God. So if God did not allow them they could not carry out the coup. We do not know how God will give us lessons to learn from this event."

The people arrested and detained or put under house arrest were the leaders of National League for Democracy party who won a landslide victory in the general election on 8 November 2020. Most of the leaders of this party were arrested.

Government workers have formed the Civil Disobedience Movement and do not go to work. They stand with the people who carry out boycotts in many parts of the country. The military and the police shoot them with real bullets. Over two hundred people have died including a girl who is only seven years old. She did not go to the streets. This girl stayed at home and the police came into the house, shot her and she died.

Some church young people want to participate in the CDM. But we do not encourage them. If the military government sees them participating in the movement we will really be in trouble. The military troops are going around the cities, towns and villages in the night and arresting the people who participate in the CDM in the day time.

As Christianity is a minority in Myanmar we have to be very careful in dealing with the government and the Buddhist zealots. The whole country is in turmoil or chaos.

Internet shut down

From Friday April 2 the Government is shutting down the internet altogether. Our phones may still work.

The military government has carried out air strikes on Karen villages. People are fleeing to the Thailand side of the border but are being returned by the Thai authorities who have set up barbed wire fences at the border points. I do not know why Thailand will not accept our refugees.

Eight to ten people die every day in the protests. Real bullets are used. The Government will not change its position so every protester will be killed or detained.

We have a military terrorist Government. They are looting the people. When people in cars or motorbikes are checked on the roads, if the army see money or phones in the vehicle, they just steal them.

Pastors and Christian leaders are not involved in the protests. If we were to do so we would be arrested and jailed. People are afraid that if they go out the army will arrest them.

We will be able to meet for Easter Services, in groups of up to 30. The Intelligence Service will be checking that these numbers are not exceeded.

My Easter message will be that people should pray for the Government and the Population. The protesters are mostly younger people between seventeen and forty five. Older people do not take part since unlike the young they cannot run away. So they pray for their sons and daughters out on the road. They do not stop them from going out.

I ask people outside Myanmar to pray for this Military Government who have really become terrorists. They have no sympathy. They show no mercy to people. They use bulldozers to remove vehicles from the roads. Pray that God will soften their hearts."

The Rev. Dr. Chris Sugden is an ordained Anglican priest and writes for the Church of England newspaper and other publications

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