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Calls for unity, love and prayer as Burmese endure brutality

Dr Tun Aung Shwe and Bishop Philip Huggins at Holy Trinity Port Melbourne. Picture: supplied.

Jenan Taylor

25 April 2023

The Australian representative of Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government has called for Christians to show solidarity in efforts to address Myanmar’s brutal military regime, ahead of an interfaith service for peace for the troubled country.

Dr Tun Aung Shwe asked Christians to pray and share their love for the Burmese community during a recent service at Holy Trinity Port Melbourne.

Speaking as a guest, Dr Shwe described the recent Easter massacre in Myanmar during which the country’s junta airforce attacked and killed several civilians.

Read more: Multi faith leaders set to demonstrate religious unity

According to Amnesty International, Myanmar has long struggled with civil strife and repressive rule, but a military coup in 2021 crushed hopes for democratic reform.

Dr Shwe said despite the on-going repression, members of the Burmese community held on to a deep sense of optimism which helped them remain resilient.

He said their love of freedom and of hope encouraged them that their human rights and democracy would be restored, and it was a sense that they hoped to keep alive in the younger generation.

An organiser of the upcoming National Day of Prayer for just peace in Myanmar said that optimistic outlook was reflected in the diaspora communities in Australia.

Baptist Union of Victoria multicultural consultant the Reverend Meewong Yang said she hoped to see more public awareness about the trouble in the region.

Ms Yang said there was a large Burmese presence in Australia, including 56 churches in the Baptist community, but that not many Australians knew what was going on in Myanmar.

She said the day of prayer would be a voice for the Myanmar diaspora, and provide a chance for interfaith, multicultural and ethnic groups to stand together for a humanitarian outcome.

Read more: Worshipper safety, freedom common ground for faith leaders

She said diaspora members did a great deal for their communities back home and hoped to show them that others in Australia also supported them.

“The yearning of our hearts is that those with power to end the violence will do so. That those who know this is wrong, perhaps some of the military, will walk away from the company of the perpetrators,” Ms Yang said.

Prayer service leaders, including Holy Trinity Port Melbourne locum Bishop Philip Huggins, will be from Christian, Buddhist and Muslim traditions and peace organisations, and will seek to affirm together their journey towards a just peace for Myanmar.

A range of Burmese ethnic groups and leaders will also participate, including a Chin choir, and the Reverend Moe Win Tun Kin from St Stephen’s Werribee, who will do Scripture readings in Karen languages.

The service will be held online and in person at Collins Street Baptist Church at 5:00pm on Sunday 30 April.

To find out more visit www.buv.com.au/nationaldayofprayer.

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