2021 in retrospect: Myanmar

Our retrospective of the year 2021 continues with today a focus on Myanmar.

February 1, Myanmar military coup against democratic government of Aung San Suu Kyi. A coup strongly condemned by the United Nations, which at the time reaffirmed its "unwavering support for the people of Myanmar in their quest for democracy, peace, human rights and rule of law ”.

As a result of this seizure of power, a Civil Disobedience Movement was born, peaceful protests which were largely suppressed by the army and which led to a wave of violence in the country, which continues to this day. .

In Myanmar, there are 4,4 million Christians out of a population of 54,8 million, according to the NGO Open Doors, which ranks the country 18th in its annual world index of religious persecution. This coup had aroused the concern of minorities, including Christians, who feared persecution.

A justified fear since a document discovered by Barnabas Fund in February, revealed that soldiers were encouraged to "punish and destroy" Christians from ethnic minorities as well as other civilians opposed to the military regime.

However, despite the threats and the increase in manifestations of violence by the military junta, the population continued to protest peacefully, determined to restore democracy.

The Archbishop of Yangon, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo ndb who is also president of the Myanmar Bishops' Conference, greeted "The incredible courage, commitment and creativity" of the Burmese people. He also spoke of the “tenacity” and “resilience” of citizens and in particular of young people who continue to protest despite the violent repressions of the army to silence them.

On February 28, the country lived a murderous day. The Burmese army used live ammunition as well as water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades against pro-democracy protesters. That weekend we deplored at least 18 deaths across the country.

On this occasion, a nun had distinguished herself by her courage.  Sister Ann Nu Thawng, of the Congregation of Saint François Xavier, institute of diocesan law of Myitkyina had intervened between the forces of the order and the demonstrators. She begged them in tears and on their knees not to open fire on the population who were participating in a peaceful procession allowing a hundred people to escape.

In recent months, we have also reported to you that many places of worship were targeted by the army, especially inChin State, predominantly Christian.

And, on December 4, the town of Thantlang, in Myanmar, was targeted by the Burmese army according to the Chin Human Right Org. Nineteen structures were reportedly destroyed. Among them, the pentecostal church.

The 6 December,  Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to four years in prison for inciting public disturbances and violating health rules related to Covid. This sentence, which aroused concern in the international community, was reduced to two years in prison a few hours later.

After his conviction was announced, residents of Rangoon took to the streets to protest. AFP reports that according to analysts, the Burmese army hopes, with the imprisonment of the former leader, to permanently stifle its influence but that new resistance to the junta is gaining ground.

As the military continues to target civilians and destroy homes in several parts of the country, including many churches, analysts told AFP that hundreds of people have fled to rebel-controlled areas for train for combat and retaliate against the army.

To be continued next year!

Camille Westphal Perrier

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