In a post written before the deadliest day of protests so far, CMS people in mission who know Myanmar well give us their perspective on the view from the streets to inform our prayers.
On 8 November 2020, the people of Myanmar voted in an election, and they overwhelmingly voted, in spite of its flaws, for the party led by Aung San Suu Kyi – the National League for Democracy.
With all eyes on the United States, where elections had taken place only five days before, perhaps the international community did not pay enough attention to the Myanmar army’s unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud which became louder and louder until the coup of 1 February.
In Myanmar, a country which was already greatly impoverished, the pandemic has brought many people and communities to their knees. Just as the number of coronavirus cases was finally going down and it looked like the country was going to lift its restrictions, the people’s world was turned upside down, again. Aung San Suu Kyi – the elected leader – and other government officials were suddenly detained. In less than a week, the people who opposed the coup were organising peaceful protests, banging pots and pans at 8pm every night. Aung San Suu Kyi also called on the people to resist by refusing to work.
Mourners attended Monday’s funeral of ethnic-Chin Zosangliana, 19, who was shot dead on Mar. 28 when the regime’s forces cracked down on a protest in Kale Township, #Sagaing Region. (Photo: Khonumthung News) #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/R9tbgxJ1cd— The Irrawaddy (Eng) (@IrrawaddyNews) March 29, 2021
Social media is filling up with images of protestors raising their three-finger salute, as at the funeral of this Christian protestor.
It did not take long for the army to start using violence against the democracy activists, first with water cannons and now with daily random acts of killing, torture, violence and destruction. Anyone can be a target at any time, including children.
However, decades of hardship, injustice and deprivation have made the people resilient, creative and resourceful. In Myanmar, people turn water into wine every single day.
For the first time, people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds are presenting a united front, with the rallying cry: “You messed with the wrong generation.”
But the inescapable question is, how many people will die in the process?
- Please pray for the military to change their minds. Pray that low-ranking military and police officers would find the courage to disobey and refuse to kill their own people. As Christians, we are called to believe that people can change and we must believe that the military can change. Please pray that those responsible for atrocities will be brought to justice.
- Pray that members of the government and all of those arrested for demonstrating peacefully will be released.
- Pray for protection from the virus that is still circulating in the country, perhaps increasingly as a result of gatherings and demonstrations.
- Pray for the families who are angry and who are grieving.
- Pray for villagers who have lost their homes as a result of new military campaigns in the rural and jungle areas. Pray for people who must live in hiding because of their involvement in the democracy movement.
Some possibilities for turning your prayer into action:
- Stay informed, spread the word. Share information with your families, friends and churches. Keep Myanmar in people’s minds.
- Write to your local MP to share your concern for the situation, asking that the UK government to keep up the pressure for a just and peaceful resolution.
- Organise prayer vigils and gatherings (on Zoom) to show your support for Christians in Myanmar.