By Mark Ellis –
A Catholic nun in Myanmar/Burma stepped forward to offer herself in place of youthful protesters, who marched on Sunday against a military coup that has squelched the country’s fragile democratic yearnings.
During a police crackdown on marches throughout Myanmar, at least 20 protesters were shot dead and many wounded in the last few days.
In Myitkyina (MICH-a-na), Sister Ann Thawng placed herself in front of protesters, dropped to her knees before advancing troops, raised her hands in the air and cried, “Don’t shoot, don’t kill the innocent. If you want, hit me.”
Gripped by the woman’s courage, soldiers stopped advancing and no shots were fired.
“Sr. Ann Nu Thawng is today a role model for Church leaders: bishops and priests are called to step out of their comfort zones and follow her courage as an example,” Joseph Mung, editor of the Gloria News Journal told Fides.
More than 100 demonstrators found refuge at Sr. Ann’s convent, protecting them from beatings and arrests, according to Fides.
UCANews reported that hundreds of Christians marched in Mandalay, calling for a peaceful resolution to the state of emergency.
Christian leaders have urged their countrymen to maintain a posture of peace.
“Those who want conflict do not want the good of this nation. Let us all become Elijah who proclaims peace, by lighting a lamp of hope in the midst of darkness,” Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon stated.
He prayed for the nation that “has seen so much suffering, so much war, so many deaths” and said, “Like Abraham, we seek a promised land. The promised land comes when we are ready to sacrifice what we consider very dear.”
“We must rearm ourselves through reconciliation and dialogue, he continued. “Myanmar’s Mount Tabor must be climbed with patience, tolerance, if we are to witness this transfiguration. Evil must disappear, but it cannot be destroyed by another evil.”
The army took control of the country on on February 1st, declaring a year-long “state of emergency,” after accusing the National League for Democracy, the party of the civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, of fraud in the November election.