Demonstrations throughout Myanmar: 'No to the dictatorship!' (PHOTO)
by Francis Khoo Thwe

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in many cities. Tensions only in Naypyidaw. In Mandalay, the bishop of the city went out on the street to support the demonstrators, taking up the three finger salute. Criticism of Card. Bo for his "overly neutral" and benevolent letter to the military. The Pope’s appeal broadcast, but the faithful want "a clearer declaration".

Yangon (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands of people demonstrated today in many cities of the country (see gallery) calling for the end of the military dictatorship and the release of the leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The demonstrations were attended not only by members and supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, but also workers, doctors, nurses, Buddhist monks, priests and even bishops.

In Mandalay, the Catholic bishop of the city, Msgr. Marco Tin Win, went out on the street to support the demonstrators (photos 2 and 3), taking up the three finger salute, which has become the symbol of the struggle for freedom against the military dictatorship.

Today is the third day of popular demonstrations, after the military decided on the coup d'état, eliminating the results of the elections last November, where the NLD won more than 70% of the seats.

Clashes between demonstrators and the army have so far only been recorded in Naypyidaw, the capital, where the police have used fire hydrants against the protesters. The appeals posted and shared speak of a general campaign of civil disobedience, which started days ago with the strike of doctors and nurses, then extended to students and teachers.

In Yangon, a group of monks marched in front of the demonstrators, along with workers and students. Among the many placards and banners, it read: "Free our leaders, respect our votes, reject the military coup!" and “No to dictatorship!”.

The protests in recent days are the largest since 2007, when a "saffron revolution", triggered by Buddhist monks, led to a rethinking by the military junta, which started to promote democratic reforms. These reforms, which left more and more space for civil society, seem to have been interrupted with the coup d'état of 1 February last week.

There is widespread debate among the Catholics of Myanmar (about 1% of the population), after Card. Charles Maung Bo’s allowed himself to be pictured together with the junta military (photo 4). His letter of exhortation to peace and dialogue was also criticized for being "overly neutral", endorsing the army's accusations that there was fraud in the elections last November. This accusation was rejected by the Electoral Committee.

Yesterday, Pope Francis expressed "deep concern" for the situation in Myanmar and "solidarity for the people". He also asked that "those who have responsibility in the country place themselves with sincere availability at the service of the common good, promoting social justice and national stability, for a harmonious coexistence".

Several faithful tell AsiaNews that they would like "a clearer statement from the Pope". Meanwhile, they distributed yesterday's message from the pontiff.

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