Hope Shines through in Myanmar

Ryan Murphy | May 2, 2011 Print

Ryan Murphy, Columban Volunteer

After 60 years of violence and repression in Myanmar (Burma), hope continues to shine through. The most well known leader in democratic reform has been Aung San Suu Kyi. Besides being under house arrest for years, she persists in peaceful opposition to violence perpetrated by the government. Along with members of the Burmese Democracy Network, and 88 other groups, they have created a letter to the government. The letter asks the new President to declare a cease fire with all ethnic groups seeking autonomy, the release of all political prisoners and demands to solve political issues though dialogue. This bold action could result in arrest, torture or even death. In 1989 and in 2007, when civilians openly protested against the government, thousands died and even more were arrested.

While peaceful struggle for democracy enters another stage in Myanmar, the U.S. State Department has stepped up its engagement with the government. The U.S. Senateapproved an envoy to Myanmar that will start a dialogue with the isolated regime. Next month, HBO will début the documentary, “Burma Soldier,” which is critical of the repression. The film will hopefully increase awareness in the United States. The documentary depicted the story of a former soldier’s transformation to a democratic peace advocate. One soldier describes his early years in the military and how his fellow soldiers raped, beat and killed civilians.  After he was severely injured by an explosion, he realized he “had a voice.” Bravely speaking out for peace during the 1989 demonstration; he was imprisoned for 15 years.  The documentary gives a voice to the horrors he lived as a political prisoner.

Last week, many of us from the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach attended the premiere of “Burma Soldier” and a panel discussion at the U.S. State Department. For so long now, peace has been an illusion in Myanmar, still hope preservers. We pray for the Burmese people. God willing, all the new attention and activism will spur change. Nothing is impossible with faith, remember “thee with faith the size of a muster seed can move mountains” (Mathew 17:20).

After 60 years of violence and repression in Myanmar (Burma), hope continues to shine through. The most well known leader in democratic reform has been Aung San Suu Kyi. Besides being under house arrest for years, she persists in peaceful opposition to violence perpetrated by the government. Along with members of the Burmese Democracy Network, and 88 other groups, they have created a letter to the government. The letter asks the new President to declare a cease fire with all ethnic groups seeking autonomy, the release of all political prisoners and demands to solve political issues though dialogue. This bold action could result in arrest, torture or even death. In 1989 and in 2007, when civilians openly protested against the government, thousands died and even more were arrested.

While peaceful struggle for democracy enters another stage in Myanmar, the U.S. State Department has stepped up its engagement with the government. The U.S. Senate approved an envoy to Myanmar that will start a dialogue with the isolated regime. Next month, HBO will début the documentary, “Burma Soldier,” which is critical of the repression. The film will hopefully increase awareness in the United States. The documentary depicted the story of a former soldier’s transformation to a democratic peace advocate. One soldier describes his early years in the military and how his fellow soldiers raped, beat and killed civilians.  After he was severely injured by an explosion, he realized he “had a voice.” Bravely speaking out for peace during the 1989 demonstration; he was imprisoned for 15 years.  The documentary gives a voice to the horrors he lived as a political prisoner.

Last week, many of us from the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach attended the premiere of “Burma Soldier” and a panel discussion at the U.S. State Department. For so long now, peace has been an illusion in Myanmar, still hope preservers. We pray for the Burmese people. God willing, all the new attention and activism will spur change. Nothing is impossible with faith, remember “thee with faith the size of a muster seed can move mountains” (Mathew 17:20).

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