By Vatican News staff reporter
The world reacted with shock and dismay earlier this week, when Myanmar’s military seized power from the democratically elected government and imprisoned government leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi.
Now, the Archbishop of Yangon, Cardinal Charles Bo has called for dialogue, adding that peace is the only way forward.
Darkness of a nation
In a statement issued on Wednesday and addressed to the Myanmar army, the civilian population and the international community, the Cardinal said the country was journeying through one of most challenging times of its history. He prayed for a durable solution to the “periodic darkness that envelops our dear nation.”
Cardinal Bo appealed to the people of Myanmar to stay calm, and never fall victim to violence. “We have shed enough blood,” he said.
Lack of dialogue and communication
The Cardinal went on to say that the unfolding events were the result of a sad lack of dialogue and communication and disputing of diverse views. “Let us not continue hatred at this moment when we struggle for dignity and truth. Let all community leaders and religious leaders pray and animate communities for a peaceful response to these events,” he said.
Pandemic and protests
The Archbishop of Yangon also stressed that the country was living through a time of pandemic and pleaded with health workers not to resign their positions in protest at the current political situation.
Take the path of non-violence
Addressing the Myanmar army (Tatmadaw) directly, the Cardinal implored them to treat the civilian population with “great dignity and peace.” “Let there be no violence against our dear people of Myanmar,” he said.
He also urged them to respect the rights of elected representatives who are currently under arrest. “They are not prisoners of war,” he emphasized, “they are prisoners of a democratic process. You promise democracy; start with releasing them.”
In words to Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD party, Cardinal Bo offered his sympathies with their plight and prayed that they would be able once again walk amidst the people, raising their spirits.
Reconciliation not sanctions
Turning his attention to the international community, the Cardinal Archbishop expressed his gratitude for their concern and compassionate accompaniment at this time.
But he also pointed out that sanctions were not the way forward. “Sanctions risk collapsing the economy, throwing millions into poverty. Engaging the actors in reconciliation is the only path,” he said.
In conclusion, Cardinal Bo underlined that all disputes needed to be resolved by dialogue; and he reiterated once again, “Peace is possible. Peace is the only way and democracy is the only light to that path."