A Catholic nun in Myanmar whose photo kneeling before armed policemen became viral and caught the attention of people around the world early this year has been included in the BBC’s “list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2021.”
“It was God’s grace that made me brave to protect protesters,” said Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng of Myitkyina, the capital of Myanmar’s Chin state, in an interview with LiCAS.news.
“Whenever I recall the event, I still feel scared and cold because I saw one person shot to the head,” said the nun. “The scene of wounded people being brought to our clinic is still in my eyes,” she added.
Vatican News cited the nun of the local Sisters of St. Francis Xavier congregation for her “incredible courage in the face of great danger … when she went down on her knees and spread out her arms before the security forces.”
“I was surprised when I knew that I was included among ‘BBC’s 100 women of 2021,’” said the nun. “It was unbelievable and unexpected,” she said, adding that “God equipped me and gave me strength to plead the security forces not to shoot the demonstrators.”
Authorities ordered the 45-year-old nun to leave the street in the middle of protests following the military coup in Myanmar in February, but she stood her ground, saying, “Just shoot me if you want to.”
“The protesters have no weapons and they are just showing their desire peacefully,” she told policemen on February 28. The video of her daring act went viral on social media, with various media networks, including the BBC, giving her coverage.
“The Catholic nun became a symbol of Myanmar’s protests following the military takeover” of Myanmar in the coup of 1 February,” said the BBC.
“The photo of her with her arms spread wide facing heavily armed police officers went viral on social media in March 2021, and won her widespread praise,” the broadcaster wrote, including her among 31 women in the category of politics and activism.
“Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng has openly spoken of protecting civilians, especially children. She has trained as a midwife and has led a life of service for the past 20 years, recently looking after COVID patients in Myanmar’s Kachin state,” the BBC added.
The nun’s gesture moved the hearts of millions of people across the world, including Pope Francis.
“I too kneel on the streets of Myanmar and say: stop the violence,” the Holy Father said on March 17, in what was a reference to the nun. “I too extend my arms and say: let dialogue prevail!”
Cardinal Charles Bo Yangon said, referring to the nun, that the world “watched with awe at the great sacrificial witness in front of the tsunami of evil.”
“I commend the witness to the redemptive love of the sister, which inspired many to appreciate the Catholic Church and the religious life,” added the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
“Out of the darkness, simple acts of generosity shine with great power,” he said.
“100 Women” is a BBC multi-format annual series that examines the role of women in the 21st century. It was established in 2013 following the gang rape and murder of a woman in the Indian capital, Delhi, in 2012. – with a report from Vatican News