NOTE: In early February, Pax Christi International members and partners in Asia-Pacific reacted with concern to the recent coup in Myanmar and its impact on the people there. They have urged prayer and action throughout the region and world in response to the coup. The full text of the February 4th message from the Asia-Pacific facilitation team can be found below or by clicking here (PDF).
The members of Pax Christi Asia-Pacific are deeply troubled by the tragic developments in Myanmar.
On 1 February 2021, the Myanmar military, also known as Tatmadaw, declared a “State of emergency” to remove a legitimately elected government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD). She has been charged with possession of a handful of imported walkie-talkies, and with her colleagues could face a jail term of three years. Detained, too, are civil society activists and several Buddhist monks, tearing down a decade of democratic reform in the process.
As members and partners of Pax Christi International in the Asia-Pacific region, we are deeply troubled by these developments in Myanmar. It is bewildering to note that Chinese state media, representative of a leading power in Asia-Pacific, has described the takeover by the Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and the armed forces as “a major cabinet reshuffle.” This “alternative fact” description does not serve the people of Myanmar.
The world knows that what occurred on Monday this week was a coup – not just against a popularly elected government, but even more significantly against the people of Myanmar, their hopes and aspirations, their pride in democratic participation, however flawed, after military rule of several decades. It is tragic that this limited “experiment” was snuffed after a challenging ten-year journey to democracy since 2012.
We deplore that the Tatmadaw resorted to wielding such a hammer blow to democracy, when the Constitution under which the government operated was approved by them in the first place, entrenched their place in the legislature, and gave them control over key ministries. That their preferred party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), performed poorly in the recent elections provides no basis for their action.
People in Myanmar are banging pots and pans to vent their disappointment and frustration, including young people who have high hopes for their country to follow the democratic path. This practice has cultural significance in that it is normally used to ward off evil spirits. That it is widespread now signifies the depth of the people’s ire over the coup…