Two Youth Killed in Myanmar Cathedral Complex

Were Trying to Avoid Beatings and Arrest

Youth Killed Myanmar Cathedral
© Fides

Two youth were killed by Myanmar security forces after seeking shelter in the complex of the Cathedral of Saint Colomban.

“The day of 8 March was marked by a harsh repression by the security forces against young demonstrators across the country. The agents open fire and claim more victims than in recent days”, a source in the Kachin State told Agenzia Fides.

In particular, the sources of Fides tell what happened today in the city of Myitkyina, capital of the Kachin State, in the North of Myanmar, which has 550,000 Christians out of a total population of 1.5 million people. To avoid the beatings and the arrest, young demonstrators took refuge in the complex of the Cathedral of Saint Colomban but the soldiers began to open fire against the unarmed young people. The tragic toll is 2 young people killed and 7 injured. The Cathedral complex – reveal Fides sources – was surrounded by the army which intends to hunt down demonstrators.

In this context, there was the intervention of the Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese, His Exc. Bishop Francis Daw Tang, and Sister Ann Nu Tawng, the nun who became an “icon” of peace for having blocked the advance of soldiers in recent days, by kneeling in front of them. The nun tried to play a role of mediator between the demonstrators and the soldiers to avoid a massacre. Despite the call to the police force “not to arrest and prosecute peaceful demonstrators”, the agents opened fire and refused to leave the scene.

According to observers, the army occupied hospitals and university campuses last weekend and intensified night raids in preparation for another nationwide strike. Violence and arrests occurred in larger cities such as Yangon, Naypyitaw and Mandalay.

“We have received credible reports from hospitals occupied today in Myanmar, including at least four hospitals in Yangon and at least one in Mandalay”, said James Rodehaver, head of the UN human rights team in Myanmar. “This is completely unacceptable. Hospitals are places under the protection of international humanitarian law”, he said.

After the coup, security forces repeatedly targeted health workers, who were the first to guide the Civil Disobedience Movement.

Unions in Myanmar have called for a national strike, as part of a civil disobedience campaign against the coup. Eighteen trade unions from major industries, agriculture, energy, mining, construction, agribusiness, and transport sectors have called for a “complete and extensive closure of the economy of Myanmar”.

Today, March 8, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, groups of women marched waving their “Htamain” (traditional Burmese female sarongs) as a sign of protest and solidarity with the Movement which peacefully challenges the junta.

Pope Francis at his March 3, 20201, general audience called on authorities in Myanmar to engage in dialogue, lamenting the violence that has beset the Asian nation in recent days.