Protests in Burma have been ongoing since the coup. Catholic priests and nuns have joined the protests in the majority-Buddhist country, where Christians make up only around 6% of the population.
On February 11, Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition Myanmar went to pray and protest outside of the Chinese embassy in Mandalay. Pictures posted to the order’s Facebook page showed sisters displaying the “three-finger salute” and praying outside of the Chinese embassy in Yangon.
The hand gesture displayed by the nuns is a symbol of resistance and has been used by various pro-democracy movements.
Besides the visible presence of nuns and priests on the streets of Burma, other Catholic figures have issued statements of support for the protests and against the military rule.
In a Feb. 3 statement, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon asked the military to release “the voice of our people” Aung San Suu Kyi, and called the coup “shocking.”
Cardinal Bo is a longtime supporter of democratic rule in Burma. In his statement, he urged the country’s military to avoid the use of violence against civilians.
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“Sadly, the elected representatives of our people belonging to NLD are under arrest. So are many writers, activists and youth,” he said. The NLD is Burma’s political party National League for Democracy, which outperformed the military-backed party in November’s elections.
“I urge you, respect their rights and release them at the earliest,” Cardinal Bo urged the military. “They are not prisoners of war; they are prisoners of a democratic process. You promise democracy; start with releasing them.”
The Holy See’s permanent observer to the UN Human Rights Council, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, said on Friday that the Vatican was praying for the people of Burma.