Council for World Mission Backs Burmese Struggle for Democracy

The Council for World Mission has joined others in the international ecumenical community in expressing its support for the people of Burma pressing for the creation of a democratic government.

In a statement this week, CWM assured the people of Burma of its "moral support for them in their desire and demand for a democratic government" after the country recently witnessed some of the largest protests in two decades against the ruling junta.

"[CWM] expresses solidarity with those individual citizens and communities of faith who have engaged in protest against the military regime," the worldwide body of Christian churches stated."

Late last month, Burma's ruling junta drew worldwide criticism and media attention when it began a major crackdown on Buddhist monks and the tens of thousands of protestors that they led in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations.

Military troops used bullets, tear gas, and clubs to break up the street protests. The government also launched an intimidation campaign that included late-night arrests of citizens.

The Light of Myanmar, a mouthpiece of Burma's ruling junta, reported that as few as 10 people were killed in the junta's Sept. 26-27 crackdown and that only some 1,000 remain in detention centers. Dissident groups, however, said more than 200 had been killed and nearly 6,000 arrested in the crackdown against demonstrations spearheaded by Buddhist monks.

Nearly a month later, the situation remains volatile, as the Burmese people await the outcome of highly confidential talks between the ruling junta and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for the last 12 years.

Armed police and members of the military junta surrounded key Buddhist religious sites in Rangoon on Friday to prevent any repeat of last month's protests.
In its statement, CWM also expressed its support for the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar as it continues working and praying for justice and peace in the troubled country.

It concluded with a call for the "unconditional release" of all Burma's political prisoners in addition to Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) won an overwhelming victory in a 1990 election but was blocked by the military from taking power of the country.

Christian Post correspondent Maria Mackay in London contributed to this report.

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