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The “Tiananmen Moment” of Myanmar

She walked towards them, knelt, and, appealed: “Don’t shoot, don’t kill innocent blood. If you want, kill me.” About 100 protesters managed to escape because of the nun’s intervention.

Images of Sister Ann Nu Thawng kneeling in front of a column of riot police and military, pleading with them to spare the hundreds of people protesting the coup in Myanmar, circulated the world through social media. 

The archbishop of Yangon, Cardinal Charles Bo, wrote about it on his Twitter account. “Sister Nu Thawng, a nun of the order of San Francisco de Xavier, is pleading with the police not to shoot civilians who are demonstrating for their freedom and human rights.”

The case of Sr. Ann occurred when the demonstration passed by the convent of the sisters who, staying next door, are responsible for a dispensary and a health service for the neediest. When they heard the shots, they came to the door. Seeing the scenes of violence and listening to the screams, Sr. Ann exclaimed: “The love of Christ calls” and intervened between the young people and the police. 

She walked towards them, knelt, and, appealed: “Don’t shoot, don’t kill innocent blood. If you want, kill me.” About 100 protesters managed to escape because of the nun’s intervention.

Indeed, Sister Ann’s action can be compared to the man who stood alone blocking a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989. In Maynmar, the police also stopped upon seeing the nun’s plea. Commenting on this audacious gesture on Twitter, Cardinal Bo called it a “Tiananmen moment.” Sister Ann today is a model for Church leaders who are called to leave their comfort zone and set an example.  

Since the February 1 coup d’état, police and military are responding harshly to protesters who took to the streets in various parts of the country. Demonstrators are calling for an end to the military regime and the release of leader Aung Suu San Kyi, who was arrested and is accused of illegally importing a walkie-talkie and organizing an illegal demonstration during the pandemic.  

As the demonstrations continued, Cardinal Bo claimed that “God is true. God is justice. The time has come to speak of truth and justice. Just as there is no victory without pain, there is no justice without truth. The truth will win. The truth will free Myanmar. God is freedom. We worship truth and justice because they are attributes of God.”

In spite of being a minority in a Buddhist majority country, the Catholic Church has historically played an important role in Myanmar and still has a great deal of influence today. This is also due to the Archbishop Charles Bo’s voice and Sr. Anne’s bravery in shielding the protesters from possible execution. 


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