The Myanmar nun who kneeled in front of police to protect anti-coup protestors has said she was surprised yet encouraged by Pope Francis mentioning her act of courage.
The pope made his comments after video and photographs of Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng pleading with security forces on several occasions went viral on social media.
“Once again, and with great sorrow, I feel it is urgent to mention the dramatic situation in Myanmar, where many people, especially the young, are losing their lives to offer hope to their country,” the pope said during his weekly general audience on March 17.
“I too kneel in the streets of Myanmar and say: End the violence! I too reach out my arms and say — may dialogue prevail!” he said.
Sister Rose told Pontifical Mission Societies news site Agenzia Fides that she was surprised but grateful to hear reports of the pope referencing what occurred in the northern Myanmar city of Myitkyina.
“We are deeply grateful to the pope because he remembers us,” the 45-year-old said.
“[His] words may have been inspired by my gesture of kneeling down and raising my hands to the sky,” she said. “I did it with my heart. These are the actions of every Christian who has humanity at heart.”
At least two demonstrators were reported killed and several others were wounded in the city last week.
“We suffer alongside our people. The violence does not stop and the injured are increasing day by day,” said the nun from the Congregation of St. Francis Xavier.
Myitkyina is one of many areas where protests against the military have been held since the Feb. 1 coup. The city is also the capital of Kachin State where there has been an increase in fighting between the Myanmar military and the rebel Kachin Independence Army since March 11, according to local media.
Sister Rose said that clinics in Kachin State have been closed out of “fear of the military”.
“Our small clinic is among the few structures open, we are able to treat the less seriously injured, for the rest we are in serious difficulty. Some die,” she said.
“However, in the midst of these tribulations, today we had a great sign of hope: Alongside the words of the pope two pregnant women, slightly injured and hospitalized in our clinic, gave birth to their babies, a little boy and a little girl,” she said.
“Every life is precious. We will not abandon our mission which is to heal the wounded, to console the afflicted and to defend all human life. The pope is by our side, he is close to our suffering people.”
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, detaining her and members of her party, drawing international condemnation.
As of March 19, more than 220 people have been killed during protests across the country, reported the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
There are fewer than 800,000 Catholics in the predominantly Buddhist country which the pope visited in 2017. Myanmar’s Cardinal Charles Maung Bo has also repeatedly called for an end to the bloodshed while Catholic priests and nuns have joined street marches.