Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar called for peace and justice early this week as security forces cracked down on critics of the country’s military junta.
On Tuesday, August 24, at least 30 young people were detained in Yangon as authorities conducted a series of raids in response to reports that insurgents are out to oust the junta.
Fighting continues between the military and the insurgents in the provinces as soldiers enter towns and villages and arrest former members and supporters of the National League for Democracy party.
In his homily on Sunday, August 22, Cardinal Bo said “a government which does not obtain its legitimacy from the people does not get its legitimacy from God.”
“In any just country, the government is not above the people. The government is one eye, the people are the other: two eyes make a vision,” said the prelate.
Cardinal Bo expressed regret over the situation in his country where “the selfish interests of a few who seek the bread that perishes” reign.
He said that those in power have betrayed the ideals of justice and peace and are trapped in “power, possessions, extreme wealth” that create “economic injustice and environmental injustice.”
Amid the challenges, the cardinal urged the people “not to lose their humanity” but “to distinguish through all trials what is ideal and what is rather an idol.”
“Our pilgrimage toward respect for human dignity is a long march that can only be sustained through the words of eternal life,” said Cardinal Bo.
A report on Radio Free Asia said that more than a dozen people, many of whom are young people, were arrested in Yangon this week.
“What we heard was that they got information from one of those arrested about an online app that young people are using to communicate with each other. From that app, they found out the connections and made the arrests,” RFA quoted a source.
The report said authorities appear to be intensifying a crackdown on anti-junta activities that began soon after the military seized power on February 1.
In the nearly seven months since the coup, security forces have killed 1,014 civilians and arrested at least 5,851, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
The junta has justified its takeover of the government, saying that the ruling National League for Democracy engineered a landslide victory in last year’s election through fraud.