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Pontifical foundation appeals for prayers for Myanmar as violence continues

The pontifical foundation of the Catholic Church, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), has appealed for an end to violence in Myanmar.

“Christians all over the world can only look toward Myanmar with the deepest concern,” read a April 9 statement from Thomas Heine-Geldern, ACN executive president.

The organization reiterated the appeal made by Pope Francis in March to end the violence and to initiate a dialogue.

“Let us pray for this, particularly during the feast days of Easter,” said Heine-Geldern.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which documents casualties in the bloody crackdown by Myanmar’s military on protesters, reported 618 deaths as of April 9.

The group said a total of 2,931 people have been detained, 54 of whom have been sentenced and 520 have been issued arrest warrants.

“I am shaken by the news that has reached us from Myanmar,” said ACN’s Heine-Geldern.

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“The degree of brutality with which the security forces acted … appears to be greater than at any time since the initial days of the coup,” he added.

He noted that security forces were apparently prepared to shoot anyone whom they saw on the streets, adding that there seems to be no quick end to the conflict.

Myanmar security forces fired rifle grenades at protesters in a town near Yangon on April 9, killing more than 80 people.

“According to experts, neither side — nor the military nor the pro-democracy movement — is prepared to pull back,” said Heine-Geldern.

“The military believes that it has the right to terrorize people in pursuit of ‘stability and security,’” he said.

“However, the movement on the streets, led by young people, is resolved to free the country from the military dictatorship,” he added.

“Things may get even worse,” Heine-Geldern warned as he called for “spiritual compassion,” including “more prayer … peace and reconciliation.”

He expressed hope seeing the “witness of the Church in Myanmar.”

“The pictures of the religious sister kneeling to block the path of the troops, imploring for an end to the violence, are moving,” he said.

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