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The brave monks of Myanmar

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By Dr. Chris Anthony
Butterworth, Malaysia
Catholic Online

Wednesday, September 26 2007 was a sad day for the people of Myanmar, a day of national tragedy and mourning. It was the day when the army opened fire on unarmed civilian protestors and Buddhist monks. Soldiers and police fired tear gas, clubbed protesters and arrested up to 200 monks in an attempt to quash the uprising. A number of deaths were reported.

The ruling military junta did not hesitate to use force even against unarmed, peace promoting modestly robed Buddhist monks. They were kicked and beaten as soldiers rounded them up and shoved them onto trucks. Doors of the monasteries were broken; things were ransacked and taken away.

The cowardly and brutal acts of the ruling military junta should be condemned by the whole international community. Definitely these acts of aggression against unarmed civilians and monks are inhumane and treacherous to the human race. On the other hand the actions of the brave people of Myanmar need to be praised and supported by all.

The protests may have been brutal but in this whole incident, two important lessons came out of it.

Firstly it was the bravery of the people of Myanmar especially the Buddhist monks. The peace-loving and unarmed Buddhist monks, who lead the pro-democracy demonstrations, had shown that they can rise up against all odds to fight against oppression and injustice of fellow men. They were willing to give up the peace and tranquility of their monasteries and risk their lives to confront the mighty junta in defending the rights of fellow citizens.

Secondly the mutual love between the people and the monks was exceptionally captivating. It was touching to see the people forming a human shield around the monks who lead the procession. The people were willing to give their lives to defend their monks.

We witness a situation where two groups of people each willing to even sacrifice their lives for each other. These actions of the monks should be a lesson for not just Buddhists but for all. It puts us to shame when we compare our own clergy-laity relationship.

Injustice and oppression occurs everywhere all the time. It is there in the government, in our offices, in schools, in our families, among friends and even in our Church. Those in positions of power adopt all sorts of tactics and maneuvers to deny the ordinary people their legitimate rights. They become masters of the very people they are supposed to serve.

Dissenting voices are quickly shut up, whistleblowers are punished and freedom of expression denied. The entire government machinery, media, armed forces, police and the judiciary are abused to silence those who speak the truth. Jesus himself was a victim of the rich and the powerful.

As Christians it is our obligation to speak out against injustice and oppression wherever and whenever it occurs. We may not be a position to do great things to change the whole world but we can do little things with great passion and love to change the small world around us.

What are we doing when the government bulldozers through unfair policies that are detrimental to the people? What do we do when people in power in the organizations we are in misuse their power and funds? What do we do when our calls for moderation, accountability and reform are not heeded? Very often, under such pressures, we lose hearts and quit but is quitting the right decision?

Let's offer special prayers for the brave people of Myanmar. Let's ask God to grant them the peace and freedom that they yearn for over four decades. As we pray for our fellow men in Myanmar, let us also reflect on what we are doing to oppose the acts of injustice and oppression that we encounter in our own lives.


JLC Consultancy , MY
Chris Anthony - Director, 604 043322800



brave monks

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