By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis on Sunday expressed his solidarity with the people of Myanmar and appealed to its leaders to show willingness to serve the common good.
Speaking after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said he is following with much concern the developments in Myanmar, “a nation that I carry in my heart with much affection, ever since my apostolic visit there in 2017.”
“In this delicate moment, he said, “I wish to assure my spiritual closeness, prayer and solidarity to the people of Myanmar.”
“I pray,” the Pope continued, “that those who have political responsibility show sincere willingness to serve the common good, promoting social justice and national stability” in view of a harmonious and democratic cohabitation, and he asked the faithful to join him in prayer for the nation.
Biggest protests in years
Meanwhile tens of thousands of people rallied across Myanmar on Sunday to denounce last week's coup and demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in the biggest protests since the 2007 Saffron Revolution that helped lead to democratic reforms.
In a second day of widespread protests, crowds in the biggest city, Yangon.
In the afternoon, the military junta ended a day-long blockade of the internet that had further inflamed anger since the coup last Monday.
A line of armed police with riot shields set up barricades, but did not try to stop the demonstration. Some marchers reportedly presented police with flowers as a sign of peace.
The coup was carried out by army commander Min Aung Hlaing who claimed fraud in a November election in which, de facto leader and symbol of democracy, Suu Kyi's party won a landslide. The electoral commission dismissed the allegations of malpractice.
More than 160 people have been arrested since the military seized power.