By Lisa Zengarini
The Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions (‘Justice & Peace Europe‘), has joined its voice to the call for an immediate end to the use of force against peaceful protesters in Myanmar and for a return to democracy in the country.
After a month of peaceful demonstrations against the military coup, which deposed National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, violence dramatically escalated on Sunday with the killing of at least 18 protesters. The violence was strongly condemned, amongst others, by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).
Card. Bo: hatred never drives away hatred
On the same day, Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, president of the Bishops Conference of Myanmar, launched a new heartfelt call to stop the violence and for reconciliation. In his homily for the Second Sunday of Lent, he stressed the need to “return to the hard life of creating hope and peace”, saying that all Myanmar’s people should enter into a “mind-set of reconciliation and dialogue”. He warned that “only love” and that “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.
Justice & Peace Europe: seek the common good
In their statement, the European Justice and Peace Commissions express concern on latest reports indicating a significant increase in violence and the casualties and suffering arising for society and citizens and convey their “support to the people of Myanmar in their defence of democracy” and “solidarity with the peaceful protesters”.
They join Pope Francis’s appeal of February 7 to those having political responsibility to “show sincere willingness to serve the common good, promoting social justice and national stability in view of a harmonious and democratic coexistence”.
Return to democratic rule, dialogue
Justice & Peace Europe also urges a “prompt release of all political prisoners” and supports the call of the Catholic Bishops of Myanmar to the military authorities “to refrain from violence and seek reconciliation, while adhering to democratic principles and fully respecting human rights, including the right to life, the prohibition of torture, the freedom of assembly, media and expression”.
Welcoming the recent conclusions of the Council of the European Union on Myanmar, the European Justice and Peace Commissions finally encourage the EU “to use all channels of dialogue with key stakeholders in view of facilitating a peaceful and swift reinstatement of power to legitimate democratic institutions”.
Since the military coup, more than 350 people have been arrested, including Aung San Suu Kyi, on charges of illegally importing walkie-talkies and of organizing illegal protests during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many other officials, activists and religious.