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PA: Ian West
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PA: Ian West
World News

Christians urged to pray for Myanmar as violence escalates

Christians are being urged to pray for Myanmar as violence in the country continues to escalate. 

A military coup in the country, which ousted pro-democracy leader Ang San Suu Kyi in February, has prompted national protests, killing at least 60 people. 

A new report by Amnesty International has shown the Myanmar military has been carrying out "premeditated" attacks on peaceful protesters using weapons only appropriate for the battlefield.

Speaking to Premier, Asia Secretary for the Church of Scotland, Sandy Sneddon said the Church of Scotland's partners in Myanmar confirmed the escalation in violence and said what some local Christians are choosing to do. 

"Police officers were ordered to open fire on protesters in a town in Falam, in Chin State. And instead of firing, they refused orders and escaped over the border to India, and apparently, quite a few people are doing that," he said. 

"Chin state is heavily Christian and the ordinary ranking police officers are locals. So, most would have been Christians. So, yes, the military regime is using more violence. There are more and more restrictions, journalists are being arrested, newspapers being closed down. But there seems to be quite a widespread resistance to this," he continued. 

Faith leaders are also getting involved. This week, footage of a nun kneeling with her hands spread out in front of policemen in Myanmar went viral. 

Sister Ann Rosa Nu Tawng, of the St. Francis Xavier Convent in the city of Myitkyinathe, capital of Kachin state, was recorded on 8th March begging policemen to spare pro-democracy protesters. 

"I have prepared myself that I will give my life for the Church, for the people and for the nation," she told Union of Catholic News. 

But this wasn't the first time the 45-year-old had challenged security forces. On 28th February she was also recorded making a similar plea: walking towards a row of policemen while crying and standing in between them and protesters. 

Sneddon said he nearly "wept" when he saw the footage of Sister Ann Rosa:

"What a remarkable woman," he said. "It almost reminded me of the man that stood in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989. It says something about the resilience and the strength of many people in Myanmar and the commitment to this peaceful process that is going on with the civil disobedience movement. They're just remarkable." 

When asked about how the Church in the UK can stand in solidarity with the people in Myanmar, Sneddon said their local partners "don't know what to ask for, we've never lived with full freedom and democracy as you know it". 

Sneddon continued: "Pray for the military to respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed in the general election in November, for the elected leaders of Myanmar to be released, for justice and for peace so that everyone in Myanmar can flourish. That doesn't seem you know, an outrageous request. That's what we're asking for."

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