The usually hectic streets of Yangon were deserted on the dayof the strike

On 1 February 2021, the Tatmadaw—Myanmar’s armed forces deposed the democratically elected government of AungSan Suu Kyi. 1 year has passed and the junta headed by General Min Aung Hlaing has ruthlessly held on to power. Bloody crackdowns on protesters has caused the deaths of over 1,500 protesters and innocent civilians. Almost 12,000 others have been arrested and hundreds of thousands were displaced from their homes. On the one-year anniversary of the dark day, the people of Myanmar requested a show of solidarity by the world.

The people of Myanmar marked the one year anniversaryof the military coup with a widespread "silent strike”. A large peaceful protest, coordinated for months at the national level, called on citizens across the country to close their businesses and stay at home. Cities appeared deserted, with no traffic, no people on the streets. The military responded by threatining life in prison for particpants.

"For a year now, we have been watching the violence in Myanmar with sorrow” noted Pope Francis during the Angelus, a day after the protests. “I echo the appeal of the Burmese bishops for the international community to work for reconciliation between the parties concerned. We cannot look away from the suffering of so many brothers and sisters."

Latest UN estimates show the turmoil has driven almost half the country’s 54 million people into poverty, wiping out the impressive gains that had been made since 2005. 14 out of 15 states are now within the critical threshold for acute malnutrition, 25 million are in poverty, with 14.4 million in need of direct humanitarian aid to survive.

Cardinal Charles Bo SDB is the Archbishop of Yangon (Myanmar’s most populous region) and has been a constant advocate against the suffering of the people. “Myanmar is torn apart and the economy is collapsing… it is urgent we stop the fighting, cease the violence, allow humanitarian assistance to the displaced people."

Amidst of all these horrible events, we give thanks that the Salesians of Myanmar Vice-province are keeping safe and growing in vocations. The Salesian family is doing what it can for this humanitarian crisis through 'food centres' and other assistance to many people around their areas.

Republished from the Australian Salesian Bulletin - Autumn 2022
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