Expressing solidarity with the religious leaders of Myanmar, launching an appeal for peace and for the restoration of democracy in the country: this is the intent of an open letter signed by 12 Asian Cardinals, members of the Federation of Bishops’ Conferences of Asia, who address their “dear brother, Cardinal Bo”, sharing the pain and anguish and expressing their full support for the Burmese religious leaders.
“We join you as you lead your people to God in prayer for a speedy resolution of the conflict and so that all can see the way to a solution condemning military violence against innocent civilians”, said the letter sent to Fides.
The letter is signed by the Cardinals: Malcolm Ranjith (Sri Lanka); Oswald Gracias (India); Thomas Aquino Manyo Maeda (Japan); Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij (Thailand); Cornelius Sim (Brunei); Ignatius Suharyo (Indonesia); Orlando Quevedo (Philippines); John Tong Hon (Hong Kong); George Alencherry (Malabar Syrian Church, India); Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal (Syro-Malankara Church, India); Patrick D’Rozario (Bangladesh); Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun (Laos).
The Cardinals reiterate: “Violence is never a solution. Force is never a solution. It only gives rise to more pain and suffering, more violence and destruction. We sincerely urge all religious leaders in Myanmar to join us in this prayer for peace, in this call for peace, and in making efforts for peace”.
Addressing the leaders of the military coup, the text remarks: “There is too much anger, too much violence, too much bloodshed, too much suffering and pain inflicted on a peace-loving population that seeks only unity, harmony and an opportunity to progress in freedom”.
The signatories urged the Myanmar military in these terms: “Please start a dialogue to find a solution, a way to move forward. The image of a nun kneeling in the streets of Yangon who implores the laying down of arms is imprinted in the minds of the whole world”.
Affirming their full confidence in the non-violent people of Myanmar, the Cardinals say: “We know that people love peace and they are only looking for an opportunity for progress. They have been law-abiding and collaborated with the authorities. For the moment they only want harmony and an end to violence”.
Joining the repeated calls for an end to violence from global organizations and leaders such as the UN Security Council, Pope Francis, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the text states: “We, Cardinals of Asia unite to address a fervent appeal to all the interested parties: soldiers, politicians, demonstrators, religious leaders, and the Church: peace, peace, peace, Peace is possible and it is necessary”.
In conclusion, the message states: “Asia is a continent of peace and hope, of cordial family ties. We are one family. We all want to help you, but you have to start doing it at home. Peace is possible!”.
After the coup of February 1 and the peaceful demonstrations for democracy violently repressed that followed, the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP), “independent group” which follows the development of Burmese society, calculated that the repression toll is at least 275 victims.