“When we speak with one voice in affirming the timeless values of justice, peace and the fundamental dignity of each human person, we offer a word of hope.”
Pope Francis, during his recent visit to Burma
Every March, CSW joins with organisations, churches and individuals around the world to pray for Burma. Despite a fragile transition to democratization, over the past year the situation has worsened dramatically in some parts of the country – not only the crisis facing the Rohingyas which has been described by UN officials as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” with “the hallmarks of genocide”, but also for the Kachin and Shan peoples, and space for the media and civil society has become more restricted. After seven years of opening up, Burma is facing new repression.
Burma faces two particularly significant challenges: ending decades of civil war, and addressing widespread religious intolerance.
And our prayers are vital in overcoming these challenges.
So here are six things you can pray for on 11 March:
- An end to decades of religious intolerance
We’ve seen changes in Burma in the past seven years, which should be welcomed and encouraged, but unless and until Burma can learn to celebrate its ethnic and religious diversity, true freedom will remain elusive.
- An end to the violent attacks on Burma’s Rohingya Muslims
Burma’s Rohingya Muslim population have been the victims of a horrific wave of violence at the hands of the Burma Army for over a year – violence which the UN has described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. It follows decades of severe persecution, dehumanization and marginalization by successive regimes and from within society.
Since May 2016, over 600,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee to nearby Bangladesh, and approximately 120,000 people are confined in squalid camps where they’re being blocked from receiving UN aid.
- A resolution to the crisis in Kachin state
Following the collapse of a 17-year ceasefire, A major offensive by the Burma Army against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has been ongoing for almost seven years, after the Burma Army broke a 17-year ceasefire. The conflict worsened at the end of last year. According to CSW’s contacts, over 120,000 people have been forced out of their homes and villages, and are now living in internal refugee camps across Kachin and Shan state.
Please also pray for two Kachin Christians who are in prison after guiding journalists around a Catholic church that had been reportedly bombed by the Burmese military.
- For Aung San Suu Kyi and the government
Pray for courage, wisdom, compassion and justice, and pray that Aung San Suu Kyi and her ministers will take concrete steps to counter religiously-motivated hate speech, discrimination and violence and promote inter-religious harmony and religious freedom for all.
- For religious and community leaders
Pray for an end to hate speech, discrimination and violence against religious minorities, particularly Muslims, and for greater efforts by religious leaders of all faiths to counter intolerance, promote peace and defend religious freedom
- For the Church in Burma
Let’s join together in pray for church leaders to play a role in peace building, dialogue and reconciliation
There’s no fixed way to pray: in your personal prayer time, hold a special prayer group for Burma on 11 March, dedicate your church service to Burma or asking someone to lead a short prayer. If you contact CSW, we may even be able to send you a speaker!
There’s so many ways that you can pray for Burma! Be sure to join us on 11 March!