Home News Church people 'bravely' provide assistance to victims of junta abuses in Myanmar

Church people ‘bravely’ provide assistance to victims of junta abuses in Myanmar

The Fortify Rights report noted that in the six months after the February 2021 coup, Myanmar’s military regime committed widespread and systematic crimes against humanity

Religious leaders — priests, nuns, and pastors — “bravely” provided assistance to civilian victims of abuses committed by the military junta in Myanmar, a human rights activist said on Thursday, March 24.

In an interview with LiCAS News, Patrick Phongsathorn, human rights advocacy associate of the group Fortify Rights, cited the role played by Catholic and Protestant Church leaders in providing support for those most affected by the conflict in the country.

An in-depth report on the situation in Myanmar released this week, Fortify Rights noted how Catholic nun Ann Roza Nu Tawng provides services to people displaced by the war and those affected by human rights abuses committed by junta forces.

The nun gained international media attention when she was pictured kneeling and praying before policemen who were sent to disperses anti-coup protesters in Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin State, about 1,480 kilometers from Yangon.

Sister Ann was managing the Mali Gindai, which provides services to people displaced by the conflict in Myitkina, when she chanced upon the police officers.

“I tried to stop them from harming the people. Finally, I went to kneel in the middle of the road and pleaded, ‘Please, I beg you. Don’t hurt them. Don’t kill them. Don’t use excessive force. They are demonstrating peacefully,'” she was quoted telling the policemen.

“From one ethnic people to another, be considerate as we are family. If you have to kill, just kill me, not the people,” she said.

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“I pleaded to them twice. After I pleaded to them, the day ended peacefully, and they stopped being violent,” narrated the nun.

Phongsathorn told LiCAS News that the peace in Myitkyina was “short-lived,” and on March 8, Sister Ann witnessed how junta forces killed two men and injured many others.

Sister Ann Rose Lasang Nu Tawng kneels in front of policemen and soldiers in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State in northern Myanmar on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of Radio Veritas Asia)

Crimes against humanity

The Fortify Rights report, which was launched on March 24, noted that in the six months after seizing power in a coup, Myanmar’s military regime committed widespread and systematic crimes against humanity.

The 193-page report titled “Nowhere is Safe,” which was co-authored by Fortify Rights and the Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School, draws on more than 120 testimonies and leaked documents to detail how the junta murdered, imprisoned, tortured, disappeared, forcibly displaced, and persecuted civilians for months following the Feb. 1, 2021, coup.

The report provides some of the most in-depth legal analysis of the atrocities in the aftermath of the coup to date and asserts that they meet the standard required by The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant.

It came a week after a UN report concluded that the Myanmar army was responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The junta has yet to respond, but has previously dismissed such accusations as foreign interference based on falsehoods.

In a statement accompanying its release, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews said that Fortify Rights and the Schell Center had compiled key evidence that could one day be used to deliver justice to the junta’s victims.

“This report provides the international community a better understanding of the junta’s crimes, the individuals responsible, and their battalions’ locations in relation to attacks,” said Andrews.

“This pivotal report on the junta’s horrendous crimes can help guide efforts to ensure accountability,” he added, calling on United Nations member states to “ensure accountability for these ongoing atrocities.” – with additional reporting from Radio Free Asia

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