Card. Bo: 'An earnest appeal' against attack on Kayanthayar church and refugees
The archbishop of Yangon denounces the violence - but not the military - which caused the death of four faithful and more than 8 injured in the Kayah state. Army soldiers targeted and bombed several churches that are shelters for children, women and the elderly fleeing war. Card. Bo, also seems to have the support of Buddhist communities. The appeal, published on Facebook, has been loudly criticised for being "too neutral".
Yangon (AsiaNews) - Card. Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and president of the Burmese Bishops' Conference, last night issued an "earnest appeal" to once again call for an end to violence in the country, but also to denounce - albeit without even naming the military - the killing of four faithful and the wounding of 8 people in the army attack on the church of the Sacred Heart in Kayanthayar, near Loikaw (Kayah state).
The attack took place on May 23 and lasted even into the night. Shooting continued today. According to AsiaNews sources, the attack – which targeted civilians who had taken refuge in the church - was intended to avenge the killing of 20 soldiers by the Karenni army (an ethnic armed group).
The Karenni, like the Chin, the Kachin, the Shan have decided to fight against the coup and to defend the population that suffers the violence of the security forces every day. Due to the clashes between armed groups, many churches have become a place of refuge. Army soldiersare now targeting several churches. Pekhon Cathedral was also hit.
Card. Bo, who also seems to have the support of Buddhist communities, posted his appeal on Facebook, and received much criticism from the population for being "too neutral" and for not clearly condemning the violence of the military. Here is the text of the appeal:
"An Earnest Appeal"
With Special Reference to the attack on the Sacred Heart Church in Kayanthayar
near Loikaw in Eastern Myanmar on 23 rd May 2021 that killed four and wounded many
25th May 2021
It is with immense sorrow and pain, we record our anguish at the attack on innocent civilians,
who sought refuge in Sacred Heart Church, Kayanthayar, Loikaw on 23 rd May 2021 night. The violent
acts, including continuous shelling, using heavy weaponry on a frightened group of largely women and
children, resulted in tragic death of four people and wounding more than eight. The church suffered
extensive damage, bearing witness to the intensity of attack on a place of worship. The midnight attack
made the hapless people to flee to the jungle. Their fate is still not known to the outside world.
Food, medicine and hygiene are urgent needs but there is no way of reaching them. There are many
children and old people among them, forced to starve and without any medical aid. This is a great
We bring to the notice of all, that the places of worship as a cultural property of a community, is
covered by International Protocols. Churches, hospitals and schools are protected during conflict
through the Hague Conventions. Apart from all Protocols, let us remember the blood that is spilled is
not some enemy’s blood; those who died and those who were wounded are the citizens of this country.
They were not armed; they were inside the church to protect their families. Every heart in this country
weeps for the death of the innocent people. Now, hundreds die; thousands become refugees and
displaced. More than 20,000 have been displaced in the recent conflict in Loikaw.
This needs to stop. We plead with you all, related organizations, kindly do not escalate the war.
Our people are poor, Covid-19 robbed them of their livelihood, starvation stalks millions, the threat of
another round of Covid-19 is real. Conflict is a cruel anomaly at this moment. Peace is possible; peace
is the only way.
We make this urgent appeal as a group of faith leaders - not as politicians. We are praying for
Peace in this great land and hoping all of us can live as brothers and sisters in this great nation.
+ Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, SDB
Archbishop, Catholic Archdiocese of Yangon
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM)
President, Federation of Asia Bishops’ Conference (FABC)
Patron, Religions for Peace, Myanmar (RfP)
Co-President, Religions for Peace, International (RfP)