EFA urged the international community, particularly ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries to step up their efforts to end the violence in Burma and to “initiate a peaceful transition towards democracy.”Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been ruled by various military regimes since 1962. The current junta took over after crushing a 1988 democracy movement that led to the deaths of at least 3,000 people.The junta is accused of persecuting ethnic minorities; squashing freedom of speech, assembly and worship; ordering the destruction of churches; instituting child labor and human trafficking; and holding thousands of political prisoners – including Nobel Peace Prize laureate and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.It is also accused of sanctioning sexual violence against women of ethnic minorities, with gang rapes making up nearly half of the reported cases documented against women of the Chin ethnic minority – about 90 percent of which is Christian –according to a recent report by U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide.Furthermore, at least a third were committed by officers.
“These horrors are being sanctioned by the state in Burma,” said Cheery Zahau, a spokesperson for the Women’s League of Chinland, in a released statement. “How can the civilized world accept this junta among their ranks? And how can countries like India and China be arming these rapists?”Last week, massive pro-democracy protests numbering in the tens of thousands were brutally crushed with bullets, tear gas and clubs. Dissident groups say some 200 people were killed and thousands arrested while the government claims only 10 were killed by its forces. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he will meet with the Security Council Friday to discuss possible action in response to human rights abuses in Myanmar.In the meantime, the EFA said its members would be in prayer for the civilians and Buddhist monks who suffered physical injury during the police crackdown.“We stand with those prisoners of conscience who have been arrested and incarcerated for expressing their views through peaceful demonstrations,” the EFA concluded.The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also expressed its concern and support on Wednesday, sending a letter of to the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Myanmar to offer prayers for a peaceful resolution and voice concern for the U.S. ambassador of the Union of Myanmar.