Pope prays for peace, calls for ‘humanitarian corridors’ in Myanmar

Pope Francis in the Vatican. (By Annett Klingner under Creative Common License)
Pope Francis in the Vatican. (By Annett Klingner under Creative Common License)

In a Sunday address at the Vatican, Pope Francis joined calls from Myanmar bishops to allow places of worship to remain “neutral spaces of refuge” and called for the establishment of “humanitarian corridors.”

In recent months, churches, monasteries, mosques, temples and pagodas continue to be threatened by regular offensives by shelling, shootings, lootings, and occupations.

Across Myanmar, eight churches were damaged or destroyed in Karenni, Kayah, and Shan states affecting the elderly, women, and children. Soldiers also raided and occupied a monastery in Sagaing state where they were searching for an anti-coup protest leader. Early Monday morning, a Yangon mosque was ablaze although it was unclear what started the fire. In recent months, markets and malls have also been the targets of suspicious arson attacks, fueling conspiracies of coordinated military attacks. 

Security forces have also occupied schools, hospitals, and clinics around the country, exacerbating the rapidly deteriorating public health situation in Myanmar.

According to a research brief by Physicians for Human Rights, there have been over 109 documented cases of attacks on healthcare workers and facilities around the country with 73 raids and 49 occupations of healthcare facilities. 

Christian leaders have spoken out against the ongoing violence by Myanmar’s security forces against protestors and prayed for “peace” in the Southeast Asian country. In a joint statement by the World Council of Churches and the Christian Conference of Asia called on the Myanmar military leaders “to desist from lethal force against demonstrators” and respect the will of the Myanmar people.

In a viral image seen around the world, Myanmar nun Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng knelt in front of Myanmar soldiers and pleaded with them to spare the protestors.

“I knelt down… begging them not to shoot and torture the children, but to shoot me and kill me instead,” she told AFP in early March.

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