Three Catholic Bishops serving in northern Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) have released a statement calling for peace in their state.
Bishop Francis Daw Tang, Bishop Philip Zahawng and Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam released the statement which calls for an end to the civil war that reignited in 2011 in the Kachin and Shan regions.
In Kachin State war is being fought between the Burmese government and the KIA (Kachin Independence Army). It has resulted in the death of hundreds of innocent people and the displacement of thousands of Kachin people (most of whom are Christians).
In the statement the Bishops write: "We have been witness to the suffering of our people since the armed conflict reopened three years ago. We have seen hundreds of innocent people killed and buried in unknown graves, thousands displaced to inhumane camps destroying their dignity and raising serious questions about their future."
It continues: "This war is brutal and has inflicted merciless collateral damages on the integrity of the Kachin people. Poor and innocent Kachin women are commoditised by human traffickers and hundreds forced into modern slavery and sold across borders. War has wiped out the livelihoods of our people, forcing our young men to seek risky livelihoods. Unrestricted availability of drugs in Kachin areas has trapped hundreds into drug addiction."
Mgr Canon Cronin, National Director of Missio, the Pope's official charity for overseas mission, visited Bishop Francis of Myitkyina last year. Responding to the Bishops' statement he says: "Our hearts and our prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in Myanmar and we support them in their appeal for a lasting peace settlement. We hope and pray that the statement released by the Kachin Bishops will shed light on the difficult situation the Church is facing. I visited Myanmar last year and saw firsthand how this conflict has affected the lives of hundreds of people. Many have fled their homes and are struggling for survival but the Church is responding to all with love and commitment. At this time, when so many Christians are facing persecution and conflict around the world, let us not forget to pray for our brothers and sisters in Myanmar."
To read the full statement from the Kachin Bishops, please download the pdfs below.
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APF Archbishop Canon James Cronin