Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar, condemned the killing of at least 35 civilians in the village of Mo So in Kayah State on Christmas Day.
In a statement released on Monday, December 27, the prelate described the incident as
“heart-breaking and horrific atrocity which I condemn fully and unreservedly with all my heart.”
“Grieving, I pray fervently for the victims, their loved ones and the survivors of this unspeakable and despicable act of inhumane barbarity,” added the cardinal.
“The fact that the bodies of those killed, burned, and mutilated were found on Christmas Day makes this appalling tragedy even more poignant and sickening,” he said.
The cardinal, who reportedly had a meeting with the country’s military chief, Min Aung Hlaing, before Christmas, said “the whole of our beloved Myanmar is now a war zone.”
The Church leader said that on Christmas eve news also came of air strikes in Karen State, reportedly forcing thousands of people to flee across the border to Thailand.
“I pray for the people of Lay Kay Kaw,” said Cardinal Bo.
He said the town of Thantlang in Chin State also endured “repeated bombardment, shelling and destruction, as have so many other parts of the country, all of which are in my heart and prayers.”
“When will this end? When will decades of civil war in Myanmar cease? When will we be able to enjoy true peace, with justice and true freedom? When will we stop killing one other?” said the cardinal.
He said ‘brothers killing brothers, sisters killing sisters … can never, ever be a solution to our problems.”
“I appeal to all those holding guns to put down their weapons,” said Cardinal Bo.
“I urge Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, to stop bombing and shelling innocent people, to stop destroying homes and churches, schools and clinics, and to begin a dialogue with the democracy movement and the ethnic armed groups,” he said.
“I also plead with the armed groups and the People’s Defense Force to recognize that guns do not solve the crisis but rather perpetuate it, causing more deaths, more starvation, with devastating consequences for our children’s education, our economy and health,” said the cardinal.
“I repeat: I call on the military to stop bombing, shelling and killing. I call on the democracy movement and the ethnic armed groups to strive earnestly for peace,” read Cardinal Bo’s statment.
“And I pray from the very depths of my heart for an end to the tragedies we have seen in recent days and weeks and for too many years and decades,” he added.