Call for prayer and non-violence from Archbishop of Myanmar in wake of military coup

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The Anglican Archbishop of Myanmar has urged Christians to get to get down on their knees and pray until it hurts in the wake of street protests that have rocked the Southeast Asian’s cities since the 1 Feb 2021 coup.

Local news sources report an estimated 700,000 people, many dressed in red (the symbol of the democratically elected government) took to the streets at noon in Yangon (Rangoon), Mandalay, and Naypyidaw on Feb 7 and 8 and today (9 Feb 2021) calling upon the army to return to their barracks and restore civilian rule. A general strike has been reported to have taken place, with public services and businesses closed. 

On 1 Feb 2021 the army, known as the Tatmadaw, deposed the democratically elected government of the National League for Democracy and declared a year long state of emergency. General Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief of staff, declared the November 2020 elections void and promised to hold new elections in one year, news agencies report.  The coup came one day before the members of parliament elected last year were to be sworn into office.

President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi have been detained under house arrest, accused of breaking COVID-19 restrictions enacted under section 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Act and for campaign law violations. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, reports 137 people have been detained, with 13 released so far.

On 4 Feb 2021 the Tatmadaw blocked the country’s internet and social media services, restoring services on Sunday. (7 Feb 2021) Videos from Myanmar have been since posted to social media and by news services showing the unrest.

The video shot by Eleven News shows the protestors calling for the release of President Win Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi, and demanding the troops return to their barracks. Christian clergy and nuns along with Buddhist monks can be seen in the crowd holding their hands aloft with three fingers outstretched — the symbol of non-violent resistance to the coup. On Tuesday police used water canons in Rangoon to disburse the crowds while rubber bullets were fired into crowds of demonstrators in the nation’s administrative capital, Naypidaw.

Burmese sources in the US told Anglican Ink the archbishop called for prayer for Myanmar and has urged the police to stand with the people. The chancellor of the Anglican Church in Myanmar told Anglican Ink that an earlier report that Archbishop Stephen had stood between the police and demonstrators, addressing the crowd, was incorrect.

This story is developing.

Watch video of the protests here: https://www.facebook.com/ElevenMediaGroup/videos/199930301874412