By Vatican News
In a statement released on 9 February, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar (CBCM) appealed to Christians "to pray and fast for peace, justice and development to prevail in the country." The bishops urge the military to act peacefully and immediately and to release Aung San Suu Kyi and other detained leaders.
In the letter, signed by Cardinal Charles Bo, president of the Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, and Monsignor John Saw Yaw Han, its secretary general, the prelates expressed their deep concern about the imposition of a state of emergency for a year after the military seized power on 1 February. They also called on citizens to refrain from all forms of violence and discrimination and asked the international community to lend a hand to the people of Myanmar.
Across the nation, protests against the coup, which removed the government led by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, are intensifying. On 9 February thousands of people took to the streets in Naypyitaw, Yangon, Mandalay and other cities, defying a ban on large gatherings. In Naypyitaw, police used water cannons, tear gas and live ammunition. Here, during the demonstrations, one woman was killed, another was hospitalized and at least 60 people were arrested by police, according to media reports. The United Nations condemned the use of force by public security agents and claimed the right of people to peacefully assemble and freely express their opinions.
Teh letter concludes saying that "priests, religious and seminarians are not authorized to hold street demonstrations with flags of the Catholic Church or with Catholic symbols or with the names of Catholic organizations" and can express their support only as citizens of Myanmar. The directive has been met with mixed opinions from the country's Catholics.