During our “March for Myanmar” initiative hundreds of you prayed, posted photos online, wrote to your MPs and donated to our Myanmar appeal. Thank you for your tremendous efforts which have had such an impact. 

 

An incredible struggle 

The people of Myanmar find themselves in the middle of an incredible struggle against the Tatmadaw (military) who took control of the country by force on 1st February. People woke to find that the leaders they had voted for in last year’s democratic elections had been arrested and locked up. Remarkably, since the military coup, millions of ordinary people have been protesting in all kinds of peaceful ways. Protests have been going on in all the major cities. A civil disobedience movement (CDM) has been established. The CDM is  

  • inspiring people to keep protesting on the streets 
  • encouraging people to avoid any businesses linked with the military  
  • supporting public servants as they resist orders from the new military government. 

Sadly, despite the peaceful approach of ordinary people, the military have used flash bang grenades, smoke bombs, water cannons, rubber bullets and live ammunition to disburse protests. At the time of writing, 863 people have been killed. 6,046 people have been arrested - 4,880 are currently under detention and additional 1,937 have been issued arrest warrants. 

Things may have become slightly calmer in recent weeks but there is still a huge amount of tension. Arson attacks, bombings, assasinations and targeted violence take place on occasions in all provinces. The increase in armed opposition groups is also a concern. 

  

Not a new experience 

Unfortunately this is not a new experience for Myanmar. The country was under military rule for 50 years after General Ne Win seized power in 1962 until the first ever democratic elections in 2015. The positive political progress of recent years would now appear to be in danger. But more than that, it is the hard-fought freedom of every individual Myanmar citizen that is now at risk. 

 

You’ve had an amazing impact 

Your prayers and donations have enabled us to carry out our vital work in Myanmar for almost 10 years. We have been training, strengthening and equipping all kinds of organisations to protect human rights. We have helped them to become more effective and have a bigger impact. At this most critical time, these organisations are playing a crucial role in the peaceful protests. 

We are incredibly grateful to all of you who participated in our recent “March for Myanmar” initiative. We received many reports of non-governmental organisations, church leaders and ordinary people in Myanmar being hugely encouraged by what Cord supporters were doing. They came across our prayers, photos and messages of solidarity on social media and were inspired to know that we were remembering them. You shared with us numerous letters from UK MPs, responding to your requests for them to take appropriate action. You have also raised an amazing £17,000 to support our ongoing work including that in Myanmar! 

We were greatly encouraged by the number of prominent church leaders who joined in with March for Myanmar by posting videos of prayers. These included Cord’s Patron, the Right Reverend Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry, the Right Reverend Martin Snow, Bishop of Leicester and Reverend Richard Teal, President of the Methodist Conference. 

 

Thanks to you we can re-start our new project 

The crisis continues but things are slightly more stable. This means that, as you receive this edition of Connect, our new project “Free” will be re-starting. It is focused on the vital task of tackling ethnic and religious discrimination. It aims to break down barriers and pre-conceptions through dialogue and inter-faith events. The first workshops with our partners will involve training on the international frameworks around freedom of religion or belief and peacebuilding approaches. Due to the ongoing tensions, we are working very hard to keep our partners safe. As a result, we have decided to run the initial phases in two parts, so we’ll work with four partners now and then bring in another four partners later. 

In addition, we are also exploring opportunities to support our partners in their wider work of defending human rights. This may include helping them to gather evidence of human rights abuses as part of the international effort to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. 

 

The long road to peace 

The road to peace and freedom can often be long but it’s a road that we are totally committed to. Thank you for travelling with us on this journey through your solidarity, donations and prayers. We continue to work in the hope of a brighter, safer, more peaceful future for the people of Myanmar, however long it takes.